Kuiper Belt

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Solar System Exploration: Kuiper belt (NASA)

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Kuiper belt , occasionally called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive.

Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies or remnants from when the Solar System formed. While many asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, most Kuiper belt objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed “ices”), such as methane, ammonia and water. The Kuiper belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Haumea and Makemake. Some of the Solar System’s moons, such as Neptune’s Triton and Saturn’s Phoebe, may have originated in the region.

The Kuiper belt was named after Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Kuiper, though he did not predict its existence. In 1992, Albion was discovered, the first Kuiper belt object (KBO) since Pluto and Charon. Since its discovery, the number of known KBOs has increased to over a thousand, and more than 100,000 KBOs over 100 km (62 mi) in diameter are thought to exist. — Wikipedia

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Kuiper Belt News -- ScienceDaily Read science articles on the Kuiper Belt, including the latest news on Pluto, Eris, Sedna, Quaoar and other Kuiper Belt objects.

  • Pluto's icy heart makes winds blow
    on February 4, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    A 'beating heart' of frozen nitrogen controls Pluto's winds and may give rise to features on its surface, according to a new study.

  • ESO telescope reveals what could be the smallest...
    on October 28, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Astronomers using ESO's SPHERE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed that the asteroid Hygiea could be classified as a dwarf planet. The object is the fourth largest in the asteroid belt after Ceres, Vesta and Pallas. For the first time, astronomers have observed Hygiea in sufficiently high resolution to study its surface and determine its shape and size. They found that Hygiea is spherical, potentially taking the crown from Ceres as the smallest dwarf planet in the solar […]

  • Team studies binaries to make heads or tails of...
    on June 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    A team studied the orientation of distant solar system bodies to bolster the 'streaming instability' theory of planet formation.

  • How icy outer solar system satellites may have...
    on June 25, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune, there are a multitude of icy and rocky small bodies, smaller than planets but larger than comets. These likely formed at the same time as the Solar System, and understanding their origin could provide important clues as to how the entire Solar System originated. Using sophisticated computer simulations and observations of TNOs, astronomers have shown how these so-called trans-Neptunian Objects (or TNOs) may have formed.

  • Gas insulation could be protecting an ocean...
    on May 20, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Computer simulations provide compelling evidence that an insulating layer of gas hydrates could keep a subsurface ocean from freezing beneath Pluto's icy exterior.


Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Tombaugh's discovery of Pluto revolutionized...
    on February 19, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Ninety years ago today, Clyde Tombaugh, a young astronomer working at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered Pluto. In doing so he unknowingly opened the door to the vast "third zone" of the solar system we now know as the Kuiper Belt, containing countless planetesimals and dwarf planets—the third class of planets in our solar system.

  • NASA's space snowman reveals secrets: few...
    on February 13, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    NASA's space snowman is revealing fresh secrets from its home far beyond Pluto.

  • Lucy mission now has a new destination
    on January 9, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    Less than two years before launch, scientists associated with NASA's Lucy mission, led by Southwest Research Institute, have discovered an additional small asteroid that will be visited by the Lucy spacecraft. Set to launch in 2021, its 12-year journey of almost 4 billion miles will explore the Trojan asteroids, a population of ancient small bodies that share an orbit with Jupiter.

  • Looking back at a New Horizons New Year's to...
    on January 3, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Safe to say, 2020 came in more quietly for many members of the New Horizons mission team than did 2019.

  • NASA renames faraway ice world after Nazi-link...
    on November 12, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Ultima Thule, the farthest cosmic body ever visited by a spacecraft, has been renamed Arrokoth, or "sky" in the Native American Powhatan language, following a backlash over the previous name's Nazi connotations.