Kuiper Belt

We basically spent our school years memorising all the celestial bodies in the Solar system including Pluto only to be told a few years ago that Pluto was not a planet after all. This was because Pluto is actually a plutoid that is found in the Kuiper Belt. Therefore, it is just basically a really large asteroid.

The Kuiper Belt is pronounced as /Ki-per/ and is often called the Solar system’s final frontier as it is the outermost region of the solar system. The discovery of its existence was in the year 1992 and was named after a Dutch-American astronomer, Gerard P. Kuiper who predicted its existence in the early 1950s.

In your existence as a human being, you must have heard of the Haley’s comet. The Kuiper Belt is actually the reservoir for short-period comets such as the Haley’s comet that orbit the sun in less than 200 years. Short period comets exist because they are disturbed from its orbit by the gravitational pull of large gas giant planets. Therefore, the asteroid goes into a new elliptical solar orbit that will eventually approach the Sun. When it does approach the Sun, the asteroid develops its characteristic comet tails.

Basically, the Kuiper Belt objects are very different in terms of appearance and size. They are generally said to be composed of rock and ice of varying proportions and are also classified into two groups. They are the Kuiper Belt Objects and cubewanos. Kuiper Belt Objects have an orbit that is unrelated to and unaffected by the orbit of the planet Neptune and other celestial bodies. Up to today, cubewanos are still unidentified because they are too far to be properly studied. Some of the Kuiper Belt Objects that were discovered were 50000 Quaorar in 2002 and the Makemake which was originally named Easterbunny was discovered in 2005. However the largest Kuiper Belt Object that was discovered in 2003 was the Eris.

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