Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune
in our solar system. It is also called Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt.
Outer Solar System and Kuiper Belt
Kuiper Belt Facts
Orbit: It takes hundreds of years for these objects to
complete one orbit around the Sun.
Object Size: Most of the objects are small, typically 10-50
Largest Object: Eris
Pluto and Eris are the best known of these icy worlds.
Pluto and the
Moons of Pluto are extremely
large members of the Kuiper belt.
may be hundreds more of these ice dwarfs out there. The Kuiper
Belt and even more distant Oort Cloud are believed to be the home
of comets that orbit our sun.
The Kuiper Belt extends from about 30 to 55 AU and is probably
populated with hundreds of thousands of icy bodies larger than 100
km (62 miles) across and an estimated trillion or more comets. The
Asteroid Belt is similar to the Kuiper Belt, however its objects are
rocky than icy.
Detecting the Kuiper Belt Objects is difficult because they are
very faint and move so slowly.
Pluto was the first true Kuiper Belt Object to be viewed.
Sedna was discovered in 2004.
Most of the objects are small, typically 10-50 km across. Until
2005, Pluto was the largest member. In 2005, Eris was discovered. At
the time of discovery it was known as 2003 UB313, scientists
nicknamed it “Xena” (after the warrior princess in the hit TV
series) until they could give it a proper name, Eris.
The first Kuiper Belt Object was discovered in 1992.
How the Kuiper Belt Names
Kuiper Belt is named for astronomer Gerard Kuiper who predicted
their existence. Objects discovered in
the Kuiper Belt get their names from diverse mythologies.
Missions to the Kuiper Belt
New Horizons spacecraft is designed to make the first
close-up study of Pluto and its moons and other icy worlds in the
distant Kuiper Belt. Iit will arrive at Pluto on 14 July 14, 2015.
Did you know?
* 1 AU is equal to the average distance between Earth and the Sun, about
150 million km (93 million miles).
* The Oort Cloud probably contains 0.1 to 2 trillion icy bodies in solar
Books on the Planets
At the Edge of the Solar System: Icy
New Worlds Unveiled (Springer Praxis Books /
Popular Astronomy) [Paperback] by A. Doressoundiram (Author),
Emmanuel Lellouch (Author)