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Debris Disks: What can we learn from the leftovers of the planet formation process?

11 Jun 2021, 16:47 UTC
Debris Disks: What can we learn from the leftovers of the planet formation process?
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This article was originally published in Medium on March 9, 2021. Some changes have been made to the original text with permission from the author.

Debris disks may sound like a completely foreign concept. But you’re probably familiar with some that go by different names! Have you heard of the asteroid belt, Kuiper belt, or Oort cloud in our Solar System? All of these things can be thought of as debris disks.

These debris disks can essentially be thought of as “leftovers” from when the Solar System formed. The asteroid belt, as the name implies, is mostly asteroids. It exists in a ring of material between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The Kuiper belt is mostly comets, is a bit broader than the asteroid belt, and extends from approximately Pluto’s orbit into the outer parts of the Solar system. The Oort cloud is in the very far reaches of the Solar System. It has a more spherical shape, as opposed to a ring, and is made up of millions of comets on very long orbits around the Sun (by long I mean something like hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of years!).

But we aren’t special (sorry). ...

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