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Icy body, similar to an asteroid in size but to a comet in composition, that orbits the Sun mainly between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune. The first known Centaur object, Chiron, was found in 1977, but its affinity with comets was not recognized until more than a decade later. Subsequently, dozens of Centaur objects have been reported. They are thought to have originated in the Kuiper belt, a vast reservoir of comet nuclei beyond Neptune's orbit.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Centaur object, visit Britannica.com.
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