Makemake's MK2: Scientists Just Discovered a New Moon in Our Solar System

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

In case you needed any proof that we still have a huge amount to learn about space, astronomers just discovered a new moon in our own solar system.

Source: NASA

They spotted it orbiting around the distant dwarf planet Makemake. Makemake sits way out beyond Neptune in a region called the Kuiper Belt. Makemake itself is already hard to spot because it's so small and so far away, but its moon, called MK 2, is much smaller and appears about 1,300 times fainter.

"Our preliminary estimates show that the moon's orbit seems to be edge-on, and that means that often when you look at the system you are going to miss the moon because it gets lost in the bright glare of Makemake," Alex Parker, the scientist who led the image analysis, said in a statement.

Here you can make out MK 2 in the glare from Makemake:

Source: NASA

Makemake is one of several dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt: 

Source: NASA

Scientists say that this discovery means that Makemake is more like Pluto than we ever knew. Both dwarf planets are made of frozen methane and now we know that they both have satellites.

Scientists will need more images and data before they can figure out why MK 2 is so dark and what its orbital path is. Mapping its orbital path around Makemake is critical to helping scientists figure out how the moon formed.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

MORE FROM

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.

How Mark Zuckerberg wants to transform society through Facebook Groups

Facebook has a new mission.

California is making so much solar energy the rest of the country looks like a joke

They're literally paying other states to take their solar power.

This summer, Americans will get the rare chance to see a total solar eclipse

Anyone in the continental U.S. should mark their calendars.

This hilarious 'Floor is lava' meme is way too real for every single millennial

When you were a kid, the floor was just lava. Now it's way more complicated.

The new iOS 11 beta is out and Apple has changed your iPhone's message effects again

A new iOS 11 beta is out and iMessage has a new trick.

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.

How Mark Zuckerberg wants to transform society through Facebook Groups

Facebook has a new mission.

California is making so much solar energy the rest of the country looks like a joke

They're literally paying other states to take their solar power.

This summer, Americans will get the rare chance to see a total solar eclipse

Anyone in the continental U.S. should mark their calendars.

This hilarious 'Floor is lava' meme is way too real for every single millennial

When you were a kid, the floor was just lava. Now it's way more complicated.

The new iOS 11 beta is out and Apple has changed your iPhone's message effects again

A new iOS 11 beta is out and iMessage has a new trick.