A Moment of Science

A New Planet?

Have astronomers discovered a new planet? Find out on this Moment of Science.

Ever heard of the word Quaoar?

Before October 2002, no such word existed. Astronomers are still debating whether or not it is a planet. But Quaoar, which was named after a native American god, is the largest body orbiting the sun that has been discovered since Pluto was found back in nineteen-thirty.

Quaoar probably won’t be designated an official planet. It is part of the Kuiper Belt, which is a place outside the orbit of Neptune, where a lot of little cold stuff goes around the sun. Comets come from there. We don’t generally think of objects in the Kuiper Belt as being planets. But then, Quaoar is only a little smaller than Pluto, and Pluto is a planet. There is already some evidence of another huge body out there, called Ixion. But that hasn’t been confirmed.

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