Quaoar is a trans-Neptunian object located in the Kuiper Belt and has a size greater than half that of Pluto. The Kuiper Belt is composed of objects made of ice and rock orbiting the Sun and located beyond Neptune.
The discovery in June 2002, made by Michael Brown and Chadwick Trujillo of Caltech (Pasadena, USA), tends to confirm the hypothesis that the Kuiper Belt contains objects of size comparable to Pluto and beyond. This strengthens the position of astronomers classifying Pluto, not among the planets but among the objects of the Kuiper belt.
The new object, referred Quaoar has a diameter of 1250 km. It follows a circular path about 6.3 billion kilometers from the Sun and 1.8 billion kilometers from Neptune. Pluto follows an elliptical trajectory bringing the inside of the orbit of Neptune and beyond that of Quaoar.
Composed half ice and half rock, Quaoar is black, "dirty ice," says Brown. It was made black by ultraviolet light which has gradually transformed its organic compounds, and since the beginning of the solar system. The objects of the Kuiper belt is the remains of the time of the formation of planets.
Asteroid almost as large as planets are yet to be discovered in our own Solar System.
In October 2002, an asteroid more than half the size of Pluto was found in orbit just a little farther than the most distant planets of the solar system.
On the picture against the large asteroid Quaoar, moves relative to the background stars.
This image was taken by the Oschin Telescope on Palomar Mountain, California, USA.
Quaoar, a name suggested by the space rock and its discoverers, is one of the big asteroids that lurk in the distant Kuiper Belt. The size of Quaoar was resolved by Hubble Space Telescope images. Quaoar is probably a cold world covered with ice where the sun only appears as a bright star. Quaoar following a nearly circular orbit, slightly inclined, is immune from interference caused by Neptune.
|Average orbital speed
|Argument of perihelion
||2002 Jun 05
||Chad Trujillo, Michael Brown
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Image: Quaoar, a large asteroid in the outer solar system. Credit: Chad Trujillo & Michael Brown (Caltech).