An outer solar system is a fascinating place. Beyond the orbit of Neptune, it’s filled with small icy bodies left over from the formation of our planet’s creation. These outlying objects are mostly found in what we call the “Kuiper Belt” or sometimes known as the Kuiper-Edgeworth belt where they occupy space between 30 AU and 50AU from Sun (the sun being your closest star).
Facts About Kuiper Belt
- The Kuiper Belt is one of the largest structures in our solar system
- The Kuiper belt, a cold and dark place consisting of millions of ice-coated objects ranging in size from small to 100 km in diameter.
- It’s been estimated that there are around 35,000 Kuiper belt objects in the solar system with diameters larger than 100 km.
- The Kuiper Belt, similar to the main asteroid belt.
- We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s in this Kuiper Belt.
- The Kuiper Belt is a region of space. It’s no wonder that there are so many objects in the belt with moons orbiting them!
- The Kuiper Belt is one of the places from which comets come.
- For 62 years, astronomers didn’t realize they’d discovered the Kuiper Belt.
- The first spacecraft to enter the Kuiper Belt region was NASA’s Pioneer 10 in 1983.
- The Kuiper Belt is home to many objects, mostly dwarf planets. The largest are Pluto, Quaoar Makemake, and Haumea
What is the Kuiper Belt?
The Kuiper Belt is a beautiful space of the solar system that can stretch across 20 astronomical units! The area also referred to as the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, may contain more than 3000 transneptunian objects.
The Kuiper Belt is both beautiful and mysterious. It contains small bodies made mostly of ice that are frozen volatiles such as methane, ammonia, nitrogen, and water.
The region of space where the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt is located has been named in honor of two astronomers who theorized about its existence.
Gerard Kuiper and Kenneth Edgerth were friends but had different ideas on what might be out there.
One was certain that a disk made up mostly of material existed at the fringes of our solar system. While his friend hypothesized that small bodies from when stars are formed still populate this area as well.
The cold temperatures found here make it easier to find volatiles than regions closer to the Sun’s warmth such as Earth or Mars which sees little water due to excessive heat
Kuiper Belt Location
The Kuiper Belt is a region of the Solar System just past Neptune. It extends from around 30 AU out to about 55 astronomical units away from our favorite star, the Sun!
Astronomers have described the main body of this belt as being more torus-shaped than a belt would be, and it ranges from nearly 40 AU to 48 AU. In most places, its thickness is considerable and astronomers believe that their observations are part of what they can learn about how stars form in clusters within nebulae.
There are many places in the Kuiper Belt where you can find Trans-Neptunian Objects, but some regions of it have a disk that is made up entirely of them.