Kuiper Belt

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Solar System Exploration: Kuiper belt (NASA)

Encyclopedia

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.

  • NASA's Webb to explore a neighboring, dusty...
    on July 22, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Researchers will use NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to study Beta Pictoris, an intriguing young planetary system that sports at least two planets, a jumble of smaller, rocky bodies, and a dusty disk. Their goals include gaining a better understanding of the structures and properties of the dust to better interpret what is happening in the system. Since it's only about 63 light-years away and chock full of dust, it appears bright in infrared light—and that means there is a lot of […]

  • Giant comet found in outer solar system by Dark...
    on June 28, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    A giant comet from the outskirts of our solar system has been discovered in six years of data from the Dark Energy Survey. Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is estimated to be about 1000 times more massive than a typical comet, making it arguably the largest comet discovered in modern times. It has an extremely elongated orbit, journeying inward from the distant Oort Cloud over millions of years. It is the most distant comet to be discovered on its incoming path, giving us years to watch it evolve […]

  • Researchers discover orbital patterns of...
    on June 17, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), small objects that orbit the sun beyond Neptune, are fossils from the early days of the solar system which can tell us a lot about its formation and evolution.

  • From burglar alarms to black hole detectors:...
    on June 8, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    Last year, Anupam Mazumdar, a physicist from the University of Groningen, together with colleagues from the UK proposed an experiment that could conclusively prove whether gravity is a quantum phenomenon. This experiment would focus on observing two relatively large, entangled quantum systems in free fall. In a new article, published on 4 June in Physical Review Research, the scientists describe in more detail how two types of noise could be reduced. They suggest that quantum interference could […]

  • What we would have learned from NASA's rejected...
    on June 7, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    It's been 30 years since Nasa last visited Venus, with the Magellan orbiter in 1990. Now, two new missions have been selected to explore the deadly atmosphere, crushing pressures and volcanic landscape.