Astronomy 161 - Introduction To Solar System Astronomy - Autumn 2007

Lecture 43: Icy Worlds of the Outer Solar System



Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies the realm of the icy worlds, ranging in size from Neptune's giant moon Triton and the dwarf planets Pluto and Eris, all the way down to the nuclei of comets a few kilometers across. This lecture discussed the icy bodies of the Trans-Neptunian regions of the Solar System, discussing the basic properties of Triton (the best studied such object), Pluto, Eris, and the Kuiper Belt, introducing the dynamical families of Trans-Neptunian Objects that record in their orbits the slow migration of Neptune outwards during the early history of the Solar System. The Kuiper Belt is the icy analog of the main Asteroid Belt of the inner Solar System: both are shaped by their gravitational interaction with giant gas planets (Jupiter for the asteroids, Neptune for the KBOs), and are composed of leftover raw materials from the formation of their respective regions of the Solar System. Recorded 2007 Nov 27 in 1000 McPherson Lab on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.