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Minor planet

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1 Minor planet on Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:11 am

A minor planet is an astronomical object in direct orbit around the Sun that is neither a dominant planet nor a comet. The first minor planet discovered was Ceres in 1801. The orbits of more than 480,000 objects have been archived at The Minor Planet Center.[1] Most of these are in the main asteroid belt.[2]
The term "minor planet" has been used since the 19th century to describe these objects.[3] The term planetoid has also been used, especially for larger objects.[4] Historically, the terms asteroid, minor planet, and planetoid have been more or less synonymous,[4][5] but the issue has been complicated by the discovery of numerous minor planets beyond the orbit of Jupiter and especially Neptune that are not universally considered asteroids.[5]
Before 2006 the International Astronomical Union had officially used the term minor planet. During its 2006 meeting, the Union reclassified minor planets and comets into dwarf planets and small solar system bodies.[6] Objects are called dwarf planets if their self-gravity is sufficient to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium, that is, an ellipsoidal shape, with all other minor planets and comets called "small solar system bodies".[6] The IAU states: "the term 'minor planet' may still be used, but genera

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