"This is the right way to measure sizes," says Brown, who also co-discovered Eris in 2005. (That same year, Brown clashed with Ortiz over the discovery of Haumea, alleging that the Spanish researchers had improperly accessed his observing records to scoop the Americans and claim credit for the find.)
The new look at Makemake found that the dwarf planet is 1,430 kilometers across if it is spherical and 1,430 kilometers by 1,502 kilometers if it is elliptical. The study’s authors favor the latter possibility, but Brown disagrees. "Even that small bit of not round is really strange," he says, adding that Makemake would have to be rotating rapidly or composed of low-density material to become so oblate. "I’m fairly certain that that's just wrong," he adds.
All the same, Brown is pleased to see Makemake in the spotlight. Its discovery was initially overshadowed by that of Eris, which outweighs Pluto and was originally trumpeted as the 10th planet in the solar system. "Makemake has always been sort of the unloved large Kuiper belt object," he says. "We were so swamped with Eris and all the interesting stuff with Haumea that people didn't really give Makemake the attention it deserved."