Kuiper Belt Objects

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kuiper belt

Kuiper Belt Objects

This disk-shaped ring of debris is about 7.5 billion to 9.3 billion miles from our Sun. Its vast collection of icy objects has only recently begun to be studied in-depth due to many new findings over the past decade. Mike Brown, astronomer at Caltech, and his colleagues have discovered new "planets" beyond the orbit of Pluto.

In 1950, Dutch astronomer Jan Oort hypothesized that comets came from a vast shell of icy bodies about 50,000 times farther from the Sun than Earth is. A year later astronomer Gerard Kuiper suggested that some comet-like debris from the formation of the solar system should also be just beyond Neptune. In fact, he argued, it would be unusual not to find such a continuum of particles since this would imply the primordial solar system has a discrete "edge." They were both right.

Kuiper's hypothesis was reinforced in the early 1980s when computer simulations of the solar system's formation predicted that a disk of debris should naturally form around the edge of the solar system. Beyond Neptune, the last of the gas giants, there should be a debris-field of icy objects that never coalesced to form planets. The Kuiper belt remained theory until the 1992 detection of a 150-mile wide body called 1992QB1. Several similar-sized objects were discovered quickly confirming the Kuiper belt was real. The planet Pluto, discovered in 1930, is considered the largest member of this Kuiper belt region. Also, Neptune's satellites, Triton and Nereid, and Saturn's satellite, Phoebe are in unusual orbits and may be captured Kuiper belt objects.

(Source: http://www.solarviews.com/eng/kuiper.htm)

new planets

Caltech astronomer Mike Brown is changing the solar system maps with his new dicoveries Sedna, Quaoar, Xena, Santa, and Easter Bunny all within the last few years.

Sedna is 8 billion miles form the sun (Pluto is 3.6 billion). There is only a 2 year period when we can see it out of a 12,000 year period of revolution. It has been called "a fossil record of the earliest solar system".

Xena (2003 UB313) was discovered in 2005 and is the most distant object ever seen in orbit around the sun, at 10 billion miles away. It is also bigger than Pluto by about 30%. Do we call this the tenth "planet"?

Quaoar is half the size of Pluto and was discovered in 2002.

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