A disk-shaped region in the outer solar system lying beyond the orbit of Neptune and extending to a distance of about 50 astronomical units, containing thousands of small icy bodies, some of which are on highly elliptical orbits, periodically visiting the inner solar system as comets.
A disk-shaped region in the outer solar system lying beyond the orbit of Neptune and extending to a distance of about 50 astronomical units, containing thousands of small, icy celestial bodies. It is believed to be a reservoir for short-period comets (comets that make one complete orbit of the Sun in less than 200 years). The Kuiper belt is named after American astronomer Gerard Kuiper (1905–1973), who first predicted its existence. &diamf3; The bodies populating this region are known as Kuiper belt objects , and unlike the bodies in the Oort cloud they are believed to have originated in situ. There are an estimated 70,000 such objects having diameters of more than 100 km (62 mi). The dwarf planet Pluto and its moons are also found in this region.
Alternative capitalization of Kuiper belt.
A belt of icy debris orbiting in the outer solar system in the same plane as the planets, thought to be the source of many short-period comets.
Origin of kuiper-belt
- After Gerard Kuiper (1905–1973), Dutch-born American astronomer who speculated about the existence of such a region
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition