Thought to be leftover materials from the beginning of the outer planet formations, the Kuiper Belt is found in the outer solar system.
The official name is the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt, and it is a region that is disk-shaped and found past the orbit of Neptune.
This area extends from Neptune’s orbit out to nearing 50 AU from the Sun and holds millions of small icy bodies made up of nitrogen, methane, ammonia, and water.
Although similar to the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt is around 20-200 times more massive and 20 times wider.
Kenneth Edgeworth was an astronomer that proposed that comets and large celestial objects might exist in abundance outside of Neptune. His 1943 proposal was viewed as a theory.
In 1950, a Dutch astronomer, Jan Oort, proposed that the comets that appear in our solar system originated from the outskirts of the system.
He felt that this was a huge unexplored area and when his observation was confirmed, the scientific community named the Oort Cloud after him.
In 1951, Gerard Kuiper made the prediction of the existence of a vast area outside of Neptune that held icy objects.
Due to the fact that both Edgeworth and Kuiper made similar predictions, astronomers call the area the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt to honor both astronomers.
There are three dwart planets that we know of that are within the Kuiper Belt: Pluto, Haumea, and Makemake. Scientists believe that some of the moons in our Solar System, such as Saturn’s Phoebe and Neptune’s Triton, started out in the Kuiper Belt.
The Kuiper Belt is rather thick in most of its location and appears as a kind of torus-shape rather than a traditional belt shape. Objects that are inside of the belt, as well as members of other locations such as the Oort cloud and Hill cloud are knowns as a group under the name “trans-Neptunian Objects (TNO). This name is a collective name, even though the Oort Cloud is thousands of times further away.
Kuiper Belt Quiz