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Neptune could not have knocked planetoids in Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to edge of solar system

Date:
October 11, 2010
Source:
University of Victoria
Summary:
New research is challenging popular theory about how part of our solar system formed. Contrary to popular belief, new evidence suggests the planet Neptune can't have knocked a collection of planetoids known as the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to its current location at the edge of the solar system.

Artist's impression of a binary Kuiper belt object during a close encounter with planet Neptune.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Victoria

New research by a University of Victoria PhD student is challenging popular theory about how part of our solar system formed. At the October 6 meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences in Pasadena, California, Alex Parker is presenting evidence that, contrary to popular belief, the planet Neptune can't have knocked a collection of planetoids known as the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to its current location at the edge of the solar system.

Parker and his thesis supervisor Dr. J.J. Kavelaars (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics) studied binaries -- systems of two objects that, like the Earth and the moon, travel around the sun while orbiting around each other. Binaries are very common in the Kuiper Belt. Using computer simulations, the researchers determined that binary systems in part of the Belt would have been destroyed by any interaction with the giant planet.

"They would not be there today if the members of this part of the Kuiper Belt were ever hassled by Neptune in the past," says Parker. "It suggests that this region formed near its present location and remained undisturbed over the age of the solar system."

The Kuiper Belt is of special interest to astrophysicists because it is a fossil remnant of the primordial debris that formed the planets, says Parker. "Understanding the structure and history of the Kuiper Belt helps us better understand how the planets in our solar system formed, and how planets around other stars may be forming today."


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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Victoria. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Victoria. "Neptune could not have knocked planetoids in Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to edge of solar system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006094101.htm>.
University of Victoria. (2010, October 11). Neptune could not have knocked planetoids in Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to edge of solar system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006094101.htm
University of Victoria. "Neptune could not have knocked planetoids in Cold Classical Kuiper Belt to edge of solar system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006094101.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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