Artwork of a Kuiper Belt Object

Artwork of a Kuiper Belt Object

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Artwork depicting a large Kuiper Belt object (KBO). The Kuiper Belt is a region surrounding the Sun, from 30 to 50 astronomical units, containing vast numbers of icy worlds. These are similar to the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, and hail from the same time period - leftover from the formation of the Solar System nearly five billion years ago. But KBOs are rich in ices, not the metals and rocks that comprise asteroids, and some are much larger than the largest known asteroids. This far from the centre of the Solar System, the Sun is a piercingly bright star, hundreds of times brighter than a full Moon as seen from Earth. In this image, two KBOs have collided in the vicinity of a larger one (bottom) leaving a field of icy debris and bringing out a spectacular solar halo.

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