The Kuiper Belt

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by karisalomon
Last updated 8 years ago

Planets & Astronomy

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The Kuiper Belt

What is the Kuiper Belt?The Kuiper Belt is a disk shaped region of space that surrounds our sun. It is behind the orbit of Neptune and thirty to fifty astronomical units away from the sun. There might be hundreds of thousands of large icy bodies and trillions of comets. There are many dwarf planets and large objects located inside the Kuiper Belt. Among them is Pluto, the former planet that is now a dwarf planet. It shares some similarities with the Oort Cloud.


The Kuiper Belt is named after Gerard Kuiper, who discovered the belt.

StatisticsDistance from Sun:4.5-7.4 kmComposition:Hundres of thousands of icy bodies and short-period cometsDiscovery: 1992, predicted in 1951Large Objects: Pluto and Charon, its moon

The Kuiper Belt vs. the Oort CloudThe Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud are both regions of space smaller than Earth's moon that have many similarities. Both regions are named after their own founders: Gerard Kuiper and Jane Oort. They are both extremely far away from the sun. Comets and icy bodies are found in both the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. They also aren't able to support life as we know it. But, both have many differences, too.

The Kuiper BeltThe Kuiper Belt is a doughnut shaped ring. It contains short-period comets.

The Oort CloudUnlike the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud is shell shaped. The Oort Cloud contains long-period comets. Oory Cloud objects were formed closer to the sun than Kuiper Belt objects.

Traveling to the Kuiper BeltUnfortunately, no space probes have ever been to the Kuiper Belt. However, the first mission to the belt, New Horizons, will visit it during 2015.

More Information*The Kuiper Belt has several dwarf planets with moons and/or thin atmospheres*There is no rings around the world in the Kuiper Belt profile.cfm?Object=KBOs


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