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.

  • Where were Jupiter and Saturn born?
    on October 29, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    New work reveals the likely original locations of Saturn and Jupiter. These findings refine our understanding of the forces that determined our Solar System's unusual architecture, including the ejection of an additional planet between Saturn and Uranus, ensuring that only small, rocky planets, like Earth, formed inward of Jupiter.

  • The mountains of Pluto are snowcapped, but not...
    on October 13, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    In 2015, the New Horizons space probe discovered spectacular snowcapped mountains on Pluto, which are strikingly similar to mountains on Earth. Such a landscape had never before been observed elsewhere in the Solar System. Scientists determined that the methane snow could only appear at the peaks of Pluto's mountains high enough to reach this enriched zone that the air contains enough methane for it to condense.

  • Evidence supports 'hot start' scenario and early...
    on June 22, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    A new study suggests that Pluto and other large Kuiper belt objects started out with liquid oceans which have been slowly freezing over time.

  • 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 […]


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.

  • New 'eyewear' to deepen the view of NASA's Roman...
    on March 4, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to explore even more cosmic questions, thanks to a new near-infrared filter. The upgrade will allow the observatory to see longer wavelengths of light, opening up exciting new opportunities for discoveries from the edge of our solar system to the farthest reaches of space.

  • Comet makes a pit stop near Jupiter's asteroids
    on February 25, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way. The object has settled near a family of captured ancient asteroids, called Trojans, that are orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter. This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan population.

  • New Horizons spacecraft answers the question: How...
    on January 12, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    How dark is the sky, and what does that tell us about the number of galaxies in the visible universe? Astronomers can estimate the total number of galaxies by counting everything visible in a Hubble deep field and then multiplying them by the total area of the sky. But other galaxies are too faint and distant to directly detect. Yet while we can't count them, their light suffuses space with a feeble glow.

  • Detailing the formation of distant solar systems...
    on December 17, 2020 at 11:26 am

    We live in a mature solar system—eight planets and several dwarf planets (like Pluto) have formed, the latter within the rock- and debris-filled region known as the Kuiper Belt. If we could turn back time, what would we see as our solar system formed? While we can't answer this question directly, researchers can study other systems that are actively forming—along with the mix of gas and dust that encircles their still-forming stars—to learn about this process.

  • Hubble pins down weird exoplanet with far-flung...
    on December 10, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    A planet in an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away may offer a clue to a mystery much closer to home: A hypothesized, distant body in our solar system dubbed "Planet Nine."