What is Quaoar?

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Astronomers have recently spotted a ring around a Pluto-sized dwarf planet called Quaoar in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Key facts about Quaoar:

  • Quaoar is a dwarf planet that’s located in the Kuiper Belt at the solar system’s edge.
  • It is about 697 miles wide (1,121 kilometers). 
  • It is roughly one-twelfth the diameter of Earth, one-third the diameter of the Moon, and half the size of Pluto
  • Quaoar is greater in volume than all known asteroids combined
  • Quaoar has its own moon, the 100-mile-wide (160 km) Weywot.
  • Its surface is moderately red and composed of low-density ices mixed with rock.
  • It takes about 288 years for Quaoar to go once around the sun in a roughly circular orbit.


What is Kuiper Belt?

  • Kuiper belt, also called the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, is a flat ring of small icy bodies that revolve around the Sun beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. 
  • There are millions of these icy objects, collectively referred to as Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) or trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), in this belt.
  • The Kuiper Belt is a region of leftovers from the solar system's early history.
  • It is thought to be the source of most of the observed short-period comets, particularly those that orbit the Sun in less than 20 years.


Q1) What is a dwarf planet?

According to the definition adopted by the IAU in 2006, a dwarf planet is, “a celestial body orbiting a star that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but has not cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite.

Source: Ring discovered around dwarf planet Quaoar confounds theories