London, July 15 : One of the largest objects in the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune, has finally gotten a name: Makemake, after a god in the culture of Easter Island.
According to a report in New Scientist, Makemake, formerly known as 2005 FY9, joins Pluto and Eris as an official dwarf planet, as designated by the International Astronomical Union.
It is the first dwarf planet to receive a name since 2006, when its neighbour 2003 UB313 was named Eris after the Greek goddess of discord.
It joins Pluto and Eris as the only named 'plutoids', a term devised by the IAU to describe Pluto-like objects beyond Neptune.
The name 'Makemake' belongs to the god who created humanity in the culture of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island.
The name was suggested by a team led by Mike Brown of Caltech, which discovered the object around Easter time in 2005.
According to Brown, he had trouble coming up with a suitable name to suggest, because the object - which is round and estimated to be more than half Pluto's size - doesn't have many "splashy" characteristics.
"This one was hard. Often there's a name that sort of speaks to you, that directly relates to the object," Brown told New Scientist.
"Although thinking of a name was hard, officially naming the object was easy," said astronomer Brian Marsden, secretary of the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature, one of two IAU committees that are jointly responsible for naming dwarf planets.
Marsden said that the name was submitted six months ago and was picked after relatively little discussion.