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Artists View of Kuiper Belt Object Quaoar
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Artist's View of Kuiper Belt Object Quaoar

February 9, 2005
This is an artist's impression of the icy Kuiper belt object 2002 LM60, dubbed "Quaoar" by its discoverers. With the help of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have determined that Quaoar (pronounced kwa-whar) is the largest body found in the solar system since the discovery of Pluto 72 years ago. Quaoar is about 800 miles (1300 kilometers) in diameter and is about half the size of Pluto. Like Pluto, Quaoar dwells in the Kuiper belt, an icy debris field of comet-like bodies extending 7 billion miles beyond Neptune's orbit. Quaoar is the farthest object in the solar system ever to be resolved by a telescope. It is about 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) from Earth, more than 1 billion miles farther than Pluto.

Science Credit: NASA and M. Brown (Caltech)