Sheppard, Scott Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
- Prediction and discovery
- Physical properties
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A reservoir of icy bodies just beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. The Kuiper Belt is the largest observed relatively stable ensemble of small bodies in the planetary region, outnumbering the rocky main-belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter by a factor of a few hundred. The Kuiper Belt's vast distance from the Sun suggests the objects are chemically primitive, containing large amounts of volatiles such as water ice. The short-period comets, which generally have low inclinations, are objects that were once in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) are leftover pieces from the original solar nebula out of which our Sun and planetary system formed. Understanding the physical and dynamical evolution of the Kuiper Belt is important in determining how the planets formed and moved about in the past. See also: Asteroid; Comet; Neptune; Planet; Solar system
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