Tag Archives: the solar system

What Is Our Place In The Milky Way?



What is our place in the Milky Way? And our place in the Universe? In ancient times, many people had the idea our planet Earth to be at the centre of the Universe, as stated by Aristotle and Ptolomeus in their ptolemaic – aristotelic concept of universe: according to this model, Earth is at the center of the universe and all the other celestial bodies orbit around it. Today lots of people think the same. But is this really the case? To answer this question, let’s try to to a travel in the universe, through space and time; we will start our travel from our planet to reach, in the end, the extreme boundaries of the universe.
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During the 1600s, Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer, was one of the first people, during modern age, to have some doubts about the geocentric model of universe: thanks to telescopic observations, he was able to demonstrate our Earth is not at the rotation centre of planets and the Sun, but really it is the Sun itself. Moreover, observing planet Jupiter, he discovered that the giant planet is the rotation center for its moons. So, Galileo became aware that the center of the Solar System was the Sun, not the Earth!

The Solar System is made by a star, the Sun, eight planets and different types of minor celestial bodies, like comets, asteroids and dwarf planets.
Well, the Earth isn’t at the center of the Solar System, maybe is the closest planet to our Sun? No it isn’t, because it is only the third planet from the Sun: the closest planet to our star is Mercury, followed by Venus and then Earth. The Earth moves around the Sun, our star, just like all the other celestial bodies in the Solar System do: this implies that the Sun, and not our planet, is the center of rotation of the Solar System! The Earth takes a year, 365 days, to travel its orbit, and its average distance from the Sun is 150 million kilometers, which is the measure unit of distances in the Solar System known as the astronomical unit and abbreviated AU. Why do we talk about average distance? Because the orbit traveled by the Earth around the Sun is not circular but elliptical, and this means that there will be an aphelion (i.e. the point of the Earth’s orbit farthest from the Sun, just over 1 AU away from it) and a perihelion (the point of Earth’s orbit closest to the Sun, just under 1 AU). An alternative way to define the astronomical unit passes through the light time, in particular we can say that the average distance Earth – Sun is equal to about 8 light minutes: this means that sunlight takes 8 minutes to arrive on Earth, so that the sunlight we see at a certain moment is not that of that moment but it is the sunlight which left from the Sun 8 minutes earlier! In other words: if the sun went out for example at 2.30 pm, we would only notice it at 2.38 pm! Or again: if you could travel aboard the Star Wars Millennium Falcon it would take you only 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth (when in reality it takes a few years). To give a more concrete idea of the dimensions of the Solar System: if the Sun were a sphere with a diameter of 14 cm, Pluto would be at 700 m from the Sun, like seven regular soccer fields!

The nearest celestial body to Earth is the Moon, our satellite: to reach it you should take three days off! It’s the same time taken by Apollo astronauts to cover the distance of nearly 400 thousand kilometers that separate Moon and Earth. But if you had Star Trek Enterprise, and travel at maximum curvature, you would only take less than 2 seconds to reach the Moon!

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#InsaneCuriosity #MilkyWay #Galaxies

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Io: Jupiter's Volcanic Moon!



From the discovery of the moon, to what makes it so volcanic, and more! Join us as we explore Io: Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon!
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8. The Discovery Of Io
In many ways, Io is one of the more popular moons of Jupiter. It’s been referenced many a time as we’ll note later. But how did we learn about this very special moon?
The first reported observation of Io was made by Galileo Galilei on 7 January 1610 using a 20x-power, refracting telescope at the University of Padua. However, in that observation, Galileo could not separate Io and Europa due to the low power of his telescope, so the two were recorded as a single point of light. Io and Europa were seen for the first time as separate bodies during Galileo’s observations of the Jovian system the following day, January 8th, 1610 ( this is used as the discovery date for Io by the IAU).
The discovery of Io and the other Galilean satellites of Jupiter was published in Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610. In his Mundus Jovialis, published in 1614, Simon Marius claimed to have discovered Io and the other moons of Jupiter in 1609, one week before Galileo’s discovery. Galileo doubted this claim and dismissed the work of Marius as plagiarism. Regardless, Marius’s first recorded observation came from 29 December 1609 in the Julian calendar, which equates to January 8th, 1610 in the Gregorian calendar, which Galileo used. Given that Galileo published his work before Marius, Galileo is credited with the discovery.
But the end of the “discovery” did not end there. Because for basically 250 years various astronomers tried to learn more about Io. But because of its place in space all they could usually see was a ball of light. It would take a while for them to start to parse out the details of the moon.
Improved telescope technology in the late 19th and 20th centuries allowed astronomers to resolve (that is, see as distinct objects) large-scale surface features on Io. In the 1890s, Edward E. Barnard was the first to observe variations in Io’s brightness between its equatorial and polar regions, correctly determining that this was due to differences in color and albedo between the two regions and not due to Io being egg-shaped, as proposed at the time by fellow astronomer William Pickering, or two separate objects, as initially proposed by Barnard. Later telescopic observations confirmed Io’s distinct reddish-brown polar regions and yellow-white equatorial band.
Telescopic observations in the mid-20th century began to hint at Io’s unusual nature. Spectroscopic observations suggested that Io’s surface was devoid of water ice (a substance found to be plentiful on the other Galilean satellites).
So as you can see, this wasn’t just a discovery of trying to find the moon, but to try and understand what it was and what it was like in regards to its very nature. Which would be further expanded upon in the future via attempts to explore the moon with probes and satellites.
7. The Exploration of Io Part 1
In the late 1960s, a concept known as the Planetary Grand Tour was developed in the United States by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It would allow a single spacecraft to travel past the asteroid belt and onto each of the outer planets, including Jupiter, if the mission was launched in 1976 or 1977. However, there was uncertainty over whether a spacecraft could survive passage through the asteroid belt, where micrometeoroids could cause it physical damage, or the intense Jovian magnetosphere, where charged particles could harm sensitive electronics.

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#InsaneCuriosity #IoMoon #TheSolarSystem

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What Lies Beyond Our Solar System?

What Lies Beyond Our Solar System?

From the planets, to the stars, to the systems, to the great unknown of the universe, join us as we explore what lies beyond our solar system!
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8. The Scope Of Our Own Solar System
Before we look beyond it, let’s take stock of our own solar system and what it all is like. There are 8 definitive planets (and more than that if you count Dwarf Planets like Pluto), we have one star, The Sun, that we orbit around, and within the confines of our system are asteroid belts, various rocks of various sizes, tons of solar rays and radiation, and a whole lot more.
Just in our solar system there is a LOT of stuff to explore. Which is sometimes hard to find because the length of our solar system is about 287.46 billion kilometers long. And even in the year 2020 we’re STILL finding out things about our solar system that are shocking and surprising. But of course, the main goal of humanity as a whole is to do what many have thought is unthinkable. To go BEYOND our solar system and to not just see it, but explore it, and live upon it. To truly become a species that is intergalactic instead of just living in one very small part of the universe.
7. What Lies Immediately Beyond Our Solar System
So let’s posit for a moment that you are able to go and get out of the reach of our solar system. Behind the Kuiper Belt, beyond the Heliosphere, what are you going to find when you reach that edge beyond? What will you see? What will you experience?
The honest and very simple answer…is nothing. Because you’ll be in what is known as Intergalactic Space. Or, the space between galaxies and systems. But to be clear, just because you don’t see anything, doesn’t mean that nothing is there.
“If you took a cubic meter, there would be less than one atom in it,” Michael Shull, an astronomer at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Live Science. “But when you add it all up, it’s somewhere between 50 and 80% of all the ordinary matter out there.”
Scientists are honestly deeply interested in this matter, or “Intergalactic Medium” because of how they feel it forms and even replenishes certain systems via the gas that it provides. The reason for this is that the medium is mostly hot, ionized hydrogen (hydrogen that has lost its electron) with bits of heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen and silicon thrown in. While these elements typically don’t glow bright enough to be seen directly, scientists know they’re there because of the signature they leave on light that passes by.
“IGM is the gas that feeds star formation in galaxies,” Shull said. “If we didn’t still have gas falling in, being pulled in by gravity, star formation would slowly grind to a halt as the gas [in the galaxy] gets used up.”
But because of its small numbers, when you’re floating through space, you’re almost literally floating through empty space. Which is why many note that all the planets and stars and celestial objects only fill up about 5% of the known universe. Everything else is minor matter, Dark Energy and Dark Matter.
6. Systems Beyond Our Own
Ok, so let’s say that you are able to reach another system. What would it be like? Well, that would depend on what you land upon.
Because there are at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy about 100,000 light-years across. The stars are arranged in a pinwheel pattern with four major arms, and we live in one of them, about two-thirds of the way outward from the center. Most of the stars in our galaxy are thought to host their own families of planets. Thousands of these extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) have been discovered so far, with thousands more candidates detected and awaiting confirmation. Many of these newly discovered planetary systems are quite different from our own.
In fact, part of the fun of astronomy in the eyes of many is going and seeing if you can indeed find a new planet, or star that hadn’t been noticed before, and seeing what details you notice about it. In fact, various agencies from NASA to the ESA and more have made their own satellites and probes and such that they’ve launched into space or our atmosphere to try and get better looks at planets and stars and see what we can find.
Some of the highlights for sure are many planets that are “Earth-Like” in structure or form or shape. Numerous kinds of stars from dwarf stars to binary stars, to Pulsars, Supernovas and more. They’ve found black holes at the center of most galaxies, and that’s still only scratching the surface of things.
4. Exoplanets
#InsaneCuriosity #TheSolarSystem #TheEdgeOfTheUniverse

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Eris Facts And History: The Most Massive Dwarf Planet!

Eris Facts And History: The Most Massive Dwarf Planet!

From its distance from the sun, to how it helped change the definition of a planet, and more! Join me as I show you Eris: Facts and History!
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8. What Is Eris?
Depending on your familiarity with our solar system, you may or may not know about Eris, and for good reason based on its location and how it relates to other planets and celestial objects in the system.
In short, Eris is one of the largest known dwarf planets in our solar system. For those who don’t know, a Dwarf Planet is one that has the size and shape of a planet but fails to meet certain technical qualifications to be considered a full planet. Eris is about the same size as Pluto, but is three times farther from the Sun. Making it something on the very edges of our solar system. In fact, outside of some comets that have been discovered and a “unique object” from 2018, the two are the most distant known objects in our solar system.
Eris first appeared to be larger than Pluto. This triggered a debate in the scientific community that led to the International Astronomical Union’s decision in 2006 to clarify the definition of a planet. Pluto, Eris and other similar objects are now classified as dwarf planets.
Originally designated 2003 UB313 (and nicknamed for the television warrior Xena by its discovery team), Eris is named for the ancient Greek goddess of discord and strife. The name fits since it remains at the center of a scientific debate about the definition of a planet.
7. The Discovery Of Eris
Given all we just told you, the discovery of this dwarf planet is really significant.
Eris was discovered by the team of Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David Rabinowitz on January 5, 2005, from images taken in October of 2003. The discovery was announced in July 2005, the same day as Makemake and two days after Haumea (two other dwarf planets), due in part to events that would later lead to controversy about Haumea. The search team had been systematically scanning for large outer Solar System bodies for several years, and had been involved in the discovery of several other large TNOs, including 50000 Quaoar, 90482 Orcus, and 90377 Sedna.
The reason that Eris wasn’t discovered right away via the images in 2003 was very simple, Eris was moving so slowly that scientists weren’t able to detect it. The team at the Palomar Observatory had automatic image-searching software that excluded all objects moving at less than 1.5 arcseconds per hour to reduce the number of false positives returned.
When Sedna was discovered in 2003, it was moving at 1.75 arcsec/h, and in light of that the team reanalyzed their old data with a lower limit on the angular motion, sorting through the previously excluded images by eye. In January 2005, the re-analysis revealed Eris’s slow motion against the background stars. Thus leading to its true discovery.
After that, the team dedicated itself to learning more about the soon-to-be-named dwarf planet, mainly learning what kind of orbit it had, and eventually learning the discovery that it had a moon within its orbit.
6. The Xena Name
I’m sure some of you out there were a bit curious as to why a scientific team would nickname a planet “Xena” after the legendary TV show featuring Lucy Lawless. Granted, that’s not the name the Dwarf Planet has now, but the story behind this nickname is honestly rather unique to our solar system.
Due to uncertainty over whether the object would be classified as a planet or a minor planet, because different nomenclature procedures apply to these different classes of objects (which would lead to the demoting of Pluto not long after Eris’ discovery and classification), the decision on what to name the object had to wait until after the August 24, 2006 IAU ruling. As a result, for a time the object became known to the wider public as Xena.
But why that one? “Xena” was an informal name used internally by the discovery team. It was inspired by the title character of the television series Xena: Warrior Princess. The discovery team had reportedly saved the nickname “Xena” for the first body they discovered that was larger than Pluto. According to Mike Brown, who was part of the team that discovered the dwarf planet:
“We chose it since it started with an X (planet “X”), it sounds mythological (OK, so it’s TV mythology, but Pluto is named after a cartoon, right?), and (this part is actually true) we’ve been working to get more female deities out there (e.g. Sedna).

#InsaneCuriosity #Eris #TheSolarSystem

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Callisto: Jupiter's Cratered Moon!

Callisto: Jupiter’s Cratered Moon!

From its discovery, to its importance around Jupiter, and more! Join us as we explore Callisto, Jupiter’s Moon.
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9. Discovery and Naming Of Callisto
Callisto was discovered Jan. 7, 1610, by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei along with Jupiter’s three other largest moons: Ganymede, Europa and Io.
Artemis. Who was also the goddess of the moon for the record. The name was suggested by Simon Marius soon after Callisto’s discovery. Marius attributed the suggestion to Johannes Kepler.
However, the names of the Galilean satellites fell into disfavor for a considerable time, and were not revived in common use until the mid-20th century. In much of the earlier astronomical literature, Callisto is referred to by its Roman numeral designation, a system introduced by Galileo, as Jupiter IV or as “the fourth satellite of Jupiter”.
Now though it’s known as Callisto by most texts, including ones you’ll see in school in hear about when moons like these are discovered. The desire to keep things simple while also rooting much naming in mythology has been desired by astronomers in earlier decades.
8. Orbit and Rotation
Callisto is the outermost of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. It orbits at a distance of approximately 1,170,000 miles (26.3 times the radius of Jupiter itself). This is significantly larger than the orbital radius of the next-closest Galilean satellite, Ganymede. As a result of this relatively distant orbit, Callisto does not participate in the mean-motion resonance—in which the three inner Galilean satellites are locked—and probably never has.
Like most other regular planetary moons, Callisto’s rotation is locked to be synchronous with its orbit. The length of Callisto’s day, simultaneously its orbital period, is about 16.7 Earth days. Its orbit is very slightly eccentric and inclined to the Jovian equator, with the eccentricity and inclination changing quasi-periodically due to solar and planetary gravitational perturbations on a timescale of centuries. These orbital variations cause the axial tilt (the angle between rotational and orbital axes) to vary between 0.4 and 1.6°.
The dynamical isolation of Callisto means that it has never been appreciably tidally heated, which has important consequences for its internal structure and evolution. Its distance from Jupiter also means that the charged-particle flux from Jupiter’s magnetosphere at its surface is relatively low—about 300 times lower than, for example, that at Europa. Hence, unlike the other Galilean moons, charged-particle irradiation has had a relatively minor effect on Callisto’s surface. The radiation level at Callisto’s surface is equivalent to a dose of aCallisto is named after one of Zeus’s many lovers in Greek mythology. Callisto was a nymph (or, according to some sources, the daughter of Lycaon) who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, bout 0.01 rem per day, which is over ten times higher than Earth’s average background radiation.
6. Surface Of The Moon
Callisto’s rocky, icy surface is the oldest and most heavily cratered in our solar system. The surface is about 4 billion years old and it’s been pummeled, likely by comets and asteroids. Because the impact craters are still visible, scientists think the moon has little geologic activity—there are no active volcanoes or tectonic shifting to erode the craters. Callisto looks like it’s sprinkled with bright white dots that scientists think are the peaks of the craters capped with water ice.
The moons of Jupiter have been something of a fascination for many astronomers and scientists. So when the Earth had the ability to look at the moons via satellites and probes they almost literally jumped at the chance. To the extent that Callisto has been visited many times of the last several decades.
The Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 Jupiter encounters in the early 1970s contributed little new information about Callisto in comparison with what was already known from Earth-based observations ironically enough.
The real breakthrough happened later with the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys in 1979. They imaged more than half of the Callistoan surface with a resolution of 1–2 km, and precisely measured its temperature, mass and shape. A second round of exploration lasted from 1994 to 2003, when the Galileo spacecraft had eight close encounters with Callisto, the last flyby during the C30 orbit in 2001 came as close as 138 km to the surface.

#InsaneCuriosity

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The Sun Facts And History!

The Sun Facts And History!

From the kind of star it is, to its impact on our world, and more! Join me as we explore the Sun: Facts and History.
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8. Our Star
Without a doubt, if you were to list the “most important things in the solar system we live in”, the Earth may be No.1, but the sun is No.2. And for all the reasons that you might expect and know.
Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest particles of debris in its orbit. Electric currents in the Sun generate a magnetic field that is carried out through the solar system by the solar wind—a stream of electrically charged gas blowing outward from the Sun in all directions.
The connection and interactions between the Sun and Earth drive the seasons, ocean currents, weather, climate, radiation belts and aurora.
In short, and in long, the sun is vital to just about everything we do on this planet, and we rely on the sun to do MANY things, even though we’re honestly not controlling anything that it does. Which is a bit of an odd thing for humanity as humans like to control EVERYTHING that has to do with us.
The sun is something we see almost every day (obviously unless cloud cover is blocking it or an eclipse is happening) and even when we don’t see it, we feel its presence. It’s more than just a ball of light in the sky, it’s an energy source, a lifeline in many respects, and as noted above, it helps shape our planet in various ways that would detrimental if it WASN’T doing it.
So if someone was to honestly ask you just how important the sun is, you should tell them all the ways we need the sun, our star, to shine on.
7. Distance From Earth and Its Size
With a radius of 432,168.6 miles (695,508 kilometers), our Sun is not an especially large star—many are several times bigger—but it is still far more massive than our home planet: 332,946 Earths match the mass of the Sun. The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it.
Which at first might seem like a bad thing. After all, would we WANT to have a giant ball of fire and radiation just lurking out there that can swallow us whole if it felt like it? Honestly, yes, yes we would, and for a very simple reason, its distance from the Earth.
The Sun is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth. Which is a very LONG ways away, and in fact it’s such a distance that they came up with a term for it via “Astronomical Unit”. So when you hear that a planet or star is say 103 AUs away, that means it’s 103 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
Going back to the distance itself, you might think that this is a “very long way away” from the entity that gives us light and essentially, life. But actually, it’s better that we’re NOT closer to the sun for a whole host of reasons.
Sunlight and its energy dissipates the farther you get away from it. Which is why there is such thing as a “Habitable Zone” in regards to stars where life can exist as well as water and other key things needed for life.
The closer you are to a star, the more impact you’re going to get from its heat and light. The farther you are from a star, the less likely you’re going to get heat and light in the amounts you need. Lest you think we’re exaggerating this, we have the perfect examples for this. It’s called Mercury, Venus and Mars.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and it’s scorching hot as a result. It’s average temperature is 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, because it’s so close to the sun it’s tidally locked, meaning that it has one “side” always facing the sun, and the other side is always away from it.
In regards to Venus, it’s our “twin” but also a case of the suns energy turning it into something else entirely. A buildup of heat and excess carbon dioxide turned it into a “Runaway Greenhouse Planet” which makes it so hot that it can melt lead. And it’s also the hottest planet in the solar system because of the greenhouse effect which was caused by the suns’ radiation.
Heading to Mars, it’s so far away from the Sun that it can’t absorb the sunlight and energy like we do on Earth, so its average temperature is -81 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to mention it doesn’t have a typical atmosphere in any sense so various solar and cosmic rays bombard the planet. And it’s so far away from the sun that even if Earth settled on the planet, using solar panels to get energy for colonies wouldn’t be as viable as you think because the distance is so great.
So as you can see, it’s GOOD that we are 93 million miles away from the sun, it’s the literal perfect spot to be in to get the positive effects of the sun without many of the negatives.

#InsaneCuriosity #TheSun #TheSolarSystem

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Kuiper Belt: Facts And History!

Kuiper Belt: Facts And History!

From what the belt is, to how it’s helped change the classification of the solar system, and more! Join me as I reveal to you the facts and history of the Kuiper Belt!
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9. What Is The Kuiper Belt?
Despite it being a major part of our solar system, there are many who honestly don’t understand the grand scale and scope of the Kuiper Belt. So allow us to give you some perspective on the matter.
The Kuiper Belt is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive.
Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies or remnants from when the Solar System formed. While many asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, most Kuiper belt objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed “ices”), such as methane, ammonia and water.
The Kuiper belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Haumea and Makemake. Some of the Solar System’s moons, such as Neptune’s Triton and Saturn’s Phoebe, may have originated in the region.
In many respects, the Kuiper Belt is the “end” of our solar system in terms of things like the physical objects that are there and reachable. The “edge” of the solar system is a slightly different matter as that would either be the Heliosphere (if you go by magnetic fields) or the Oort Cloud, which is where the suns’ gravity reaches the end of its influence.
But either way, the Kuiper Belt is a major part of our solar system in the literal and figurative sense. Which is rather interesting when you think about it because for a very long time we didn’t understand what was truly in that realm of space as a whole.
8. The Discovery Of The Kuiper Belt
To truly understand the Kuiper Belt, we have to dive into something you’re very familiar with, Pluto.
After the discovery of Pluto in 1930, many speculated that it might not be alone. The region now called the Kuiper belt was hypothesized in various forms for decades. It was only in 1992 that the first direct evidence for its existence was found. The number and variety of prior speculations on the nature of the Kuiper belt have led to continued uncertainty as to who deserves credit for first proposing it.
But let’s go back to the beginning and just break it down from there, shall we?
The first astronomer to suggest the existence of a trans-Neptunian population was Frederick C. Leonard. Soon after Pluto’s discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, Leonard pondered whether it was “not likely that in Pluto there has come to light the first of a series of ultra-Neptunian bodies, the remaining members of which still await discovery but which are destined eventually to be detected”.
That same year, astronomer Armin O. Leuschner suggested that Pluto “may be one of many long-period planetary objects yet to be discovered.”
This is fascinating for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that the discovery of Pluto should have been a finite discovery, or one that led to more study of the planet and what it could mean as a whole. Yet many scientists looked upon it and wondered if it was telling us everything we needed to know about the region.
In 1943, in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Kenneth Edgeworth hypothesized that, in the region beyond Neptune, the material within the primordial solar nebula was too widely spaced to condense into planets, and so rather condensed into a myriad of smaller bodies.
From this he concluded that “the outer region of the solar system, beyond the orbits of the planets, is occupied by a very large number of comparatively small bodies” and that, from time to time, one of their number “wanders from its own sphere and appears as an occasional visitor to the inner solar system”, becoming a comet.
That’s not a bad way to describe what the Kuiper Belt really is, and he was right that by modern classifications, the various items in the belt weren’t able to go and become fully-fledged planets. But more on that in a bit.
Before we continue to break down everything that’s going on with the Kuiper Belt, be sure to like or dislike the video, that way we can continue to improve our content for you, the viewer! Also be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss ANY of our weekly videos!
7. Continued Theories
The more that astronomers wondered about the Kuiper Belt, the more that speculations rose and fell about what it is, what it could be, what it could’ve been, and more.

#InsaneCuriosity #KuiperBelt #TheSolarSystem

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