Home » News & Blogs » Why Can We Detect Kuiper Belts Around Other Stars But Cannot See Our Own Oort Cloud?
Bookmark and Share
Ask an Astronomer

Why Can We Detect Kuiper Belts Around Other Stars But Cannot See Our Own Oort Cloud?

17 Oct 2016, 14:13 UTC
Why Can We Detect Kuiper Belts Around Other Stars But Cannot See Our Own Oort Cloud?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Question: We cannot see the Oort cloud with any of our technology (i.e. Hubbel or anything else) but we CAN see Kuiper belts around other stars (several magnitudes farther away). Explain? — Tim
Answer: The reason that we cannot see the Oort Cloud around our own Solar System is that it is believed to be 100,000 AU from the Sun and comprised of very small and dark objects which are hard to detect. We infer the existence of the Oort Cloud due to the fact that we observe long-period comets coming from this distance. Kuiper Belts that have been detected around other stars have largely been toward stars that are younger than ours, so that they have more remnant dust and gas around them. This remnant dust and gas forms a “belt” around these young stars, is dense enough to be observable with telescopes that are sensitive to dust which has been heated by its parent star, and appears to have characteristics that we attribute to a young Kuiper Belt around these stars.
Jeff Mangum

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod