Spot Discovered On Dwarf Planet Haumea Shows Up Red And Rich With Organics
ScienceDaily (Sep. 26, 2009) — A dark red area discovered on the dwarf planet Haumea appears to be richer in minerals and organic compounds than the surrounding icy surface.
The discovery will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam by Dr Pedro Lacerda on Wednesday 16 September.
The spot was discovered by measuring changes in its brightness as it rotates. The origin of the spot is unknown, however its “light curve”, which describes variations in its brightness over time, is not exactly the same shape in all wavelengths. Small but persistent differences indicate that the dark spot is slightly redder in visible light and slightly bluer at infrared wavelengths.
Possible interpretations of these measurements are that the spot is richer in minerals and organic compounds, or that it contains a higher fraction of crystalline ice. If the spot is a scar of a recent impact onto Haumea then the spot material might resemble the composition of the impactor, perhaps mixed with material from the inner layers of Haumea.