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Beyond Earthly Skies

Possible Belt of Objects between Uranus and Neptune

19 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
Possible Belt of Objects between Uranus and Neptune
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Numerical simulations have revealed a region of space between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune where it is stable enough for a belt of small objects residing there to survive over the age of the Solar System without being ejected by gravitational interactions with the giant planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In the study, test particles were used to identify possible regions of stability. The results show that in the region between 24 to 27 AU from the Sun, about 0.3 percent of an initial population of test particles moving on low-eccentricity, low-inclination orbits could survive over the 4.5 billion year age of the Solar System.Figure 1: A size comparison of Neptune and Earth. Figure 2: Orbits of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune shown to scale. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute.Figure 3: Simulation results of test particles in the region between Uranus and Neptune. The test particles were initially on low-eccentricity, low-inclination orbits. The red points indicate test particles that survived the full 4.5 billion year integration, while the green points indicate test particles that did not survive. (Holman M.J., 1997)Although members of this hypothetical belt of objects between Uranus and Neptune have yet to be detected, ...

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