Comets in the Kuiper Belt

15 Sep 2010

At ... is about some images from the Hubble Space Telescope which show two remote objects in the Solar System slowly moving across the sky in front of a distant galaxy. They were moving while Hubble was recording and they appear in the images as streaks of light and seem to be comet like objects orbiting the Sun some 40 odd times further away than the earth. They also appear to be companion objects - closer to each other than the earth is to the moon. However, that is not all as the Astrophysical Journal is going to publish details of a further 14 objects in the so called Kuiper Belt (beyond the planet Neptune) which appear to be up to 100 km across. He then goes on to describe the current state of play in respect of asteroids and comets in the Solar System, especially in the Kuiper Belt where some 100,000 objects of reasonable size are estimated to be - as well as up to a million comets. It is now thought that most comets do not originate in the Oort Cloud but are dislodged from the Kuiper Belt. A few years ago Pluto was demoted from planet status largely because objects larger than Pluto were being found in the same general region of the sky - at the moment more than a dozen Pluto sized objects are an established fact.