RESOURCES: Planetary Crumbs

Science  09 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5655, pp. 149d
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5655.149d

Beyond Neptune, leftovers from the formation of the planets tumble through the region of space known as the Kuiper belt. The belt teems with at least 70,000 chunks of jetsam that never made it into a planet during the condensation of the solar system. To learn more, check out this site created by astronomer David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Scientists first recognized the belt's existence in 1992, the site explains. Most so-called Kuiper belt objects are dim and small, around 100 kilometers in diameter. But the discovery of heftier chunks called “plutinos” has spurred some scientists to question Pluto's status as a planet; Jewitt suggests that we regard it as the foremost plutino. Astronomers will find position data for a host of Kuiper belt objects and can try spotting the “most wanted” objects that haven't been observed recently.

www.ifa.hawaii.edu/faculty/jewitt/kb.html

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