Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quaoar

Quaoar (pronounced [qʷɑoɑr] in Tongva) is the name of a creation deity of the Native American Tongva people, native to the area around Los Angeles, California. According to Tongva mythology, Quaoar sings and dances the world and other deities into existence.

Like in most other creation myths, at first there was Chaos. Then along came Quaoar. He was sorrowed by the emptiness in existence and began to dance, whirl, and twirl all about while he sang the Song of Creation. God of the Sky, Weywot, was first to be formed of the creation melody. Next came Chehooit, who became Goddess of the Earth. These two new deities joined in the dance and created the sun and moon (Tamit and Moar, respectively).

Together these five sang and danced everything else into existence: animals, plants, people, and the other gods as well. His work finished, Quaoar faded into obscurity, perhaps returning to wherever it was he came from originally.

In 2002, a large Trans-Neptunian object, discovered when it was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, was named Quaoar after the Tongva deity. It is a small icy body approximately half the size of Pluto, and at the time it was the largest object to be discovered in the solar system since the ninth planet. It has a comet-like composition, but it is 100 million times greater in volume. It also has an almost perfectly circular orbit