Some three dozen objects have now been discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune and classified as members of the Kuiper belt-a remnant population of icy planetesimals that failed to be incorporated into planets. At still greater distances is believed to lie the Oort cloud-a massive population of cometary objects distributed approximately in a sphere of characteristic dimension 50,000 AU (ref. 6). Here we report the discovery of an object, 1996TL66, that appears to be representative of a population of scattered bodies located between the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud. 1996TL66 has an orbital semi major axis of 84 AU, and is in an extremely eccentric and highly inclined orbit (e = 0.50, i = 24°). With a red magnitude ~20.9, it is the brightest trans-neptunian object yet found since Pluto and Charon. Its discovery suggests that the Kuiper belt extends substantially beyond the 30- 50(AU)) region sampled by previous surveys, and may contain much more mass than previously suspected.
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