100 Science Words Every College Graduate Should Know
by the Editors of the American Heritage® Dictionaries
Kuiper belt (k'pr)
A disk-shaped region in the outer solar system lying beyond the orbit of Neptune and containing thousands of small, icy celestial bodies, believed to be a reservoir for short-period comets (comets that make one complete orbit of the sun in less than 200 years).
The bodies populating this region are known as Kuiper belt objects. There are an estimated 70,000 such objects having diameters of more than 100 km (62 mi). Pluto, which is traditionally classed with the planets, together with its moon Charon, is found in this region and is thought by some astronomers to be a large Kuiper belt object.
The Kuiper belt is named after American astronomer Gerard Kuiper (19051973), who first hypothesized its existence.