THE INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION / MARTIN KORNMESSER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY THE INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION / MARTIN KORNMESSER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Candidate dwarf planets. Labelled computer artwork of twelve candidate dwarf planets next to the Earth (right), showing their relative sizes. From left, across top then bottom, they are: 2003 EL61, 2005 FY9, Sedna, Orcus, Quaoar, 2002 TX300, 2002 AW197, Varuna, Ixion, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea. A dwarf planet is defined as an object large enough to be spherical due to its gravity (though rotation can cause extreme oblateness, as in 2003 EL61), and with an independent orbit around the Sun (ie. A true planet, such as the Earth, has to dominate its orbit around the Sun. This list, published by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in August 2006, is mostly trans-Neptunian objects, with the last three bodies being from the asteroid belt.
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