Quaoar!

An artist's conception of Quaoar and its small moon Weywot. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech))

An artist's conception of Quaoar and its small moon Weywot. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech))

Hello again, Earthlings!

Let’s take a journey to the weird and wonderful region of the Kuiper Belt to look at one of its inhabitants, Quaoar!

First observed in 2005 by Mike Brown (you know, that astronomer that advocated for Pluto’s “demotion” to dwarf-planet status) and his team, the discovery of Eris overturned decades of astronomical conventions. But both before and since then, many other “dwarf planets” have been discovered and have thus been in need of re-classifications. This includes the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 5000 Quaoar.

Due to Quaoar’s distance, accurate measurements of its orbit and size are estimated. From the Hubble Space Telescope measurements over many years, Quaoar is estimated to be about 890 km in diameter.

Quaoar also has an incredibly dark surfaces, almost considered to be the darkest object in the Kuiper Belt. This may be from unknown irradiated ices, or that fresh ice no longer exist on its surface.

Back in 2007, Quaoar was discovered to have a moon! A moon that is nearly 73 km large! As far as WHY there is a moon, that is still being studied. The current theory is that this was a cause from a previous collision. The moon’s name is Weymot!

The yellow line is Quaoar’s orbit to date! Image credit: NASA

The yellow line is Quaoar’s orbit to date! Image credit: NASA

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a look at the Top 5 Most Unusual Nebulae!

Caitlin Ahrens