The Kuiper Belt is a disk-shaped region of the Solar System beyond Neptune, 30 to 100 AU away from the Sun. It is believed that short-period comets such as Halley's Comet begin as small icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO's).

Although the existence of the Kuiper Belt was hypothesized decades ago, the great distance and small sizes of the KBOs meant that they were too faint to be seen on astronomical photographs. Not long after the introduction of electronic CCD detectors to astronomy, the first KBO was discovered: 1992QB1. The current list of known KBOs contains about 600 objects discovered since 1992.

Lynne Allen and Gary Bernstein, formerly of the UM Astronomy Department, observed several square degrees of the sky in order to discover very faint KBOs, in an effort to learn more about the formation of the Solar System. This movie shows the appearance of a small patch of the sky observed over 2 nights in May, 1998 as part of this project. Two relatively bright KBOs were discovered in these images. The movie was created by former UM undergraduate Brandon Preblich.


Can YOU Find the KBOs?

Here is our Kuiper Belt Movie! Click the picture below and then try to see if you can find any KBOs (Hint: Two KBOs were discovered in these pictures.)

790 kB GIF This movie shows a section of the sky 3.5 arcminutes across (about 1/8 the diameter of a full moon). The clock icon shows the passage of time; note that the images are taken for a few hours on each of 2 consecutive nights. Each frame of the movie is a single 10-minute exposure on the 4-meter telescope.
1.0 MB MPEG

What should you be looking for?

The sky contains many different objects, how do we know which are KBOs? There are

Give Up Yet?

Can't find them? Click the picture below to view the movie with arrows pointing out the asteroids and KBOs.

810 kB GIF This version contains arrows pointing to all the moving objects. The two KBOs are labelled with their official designations from the Minor Planet Center; the other objects are main-belt asteroids.

The Whole Show

1.4 MB GIF In this version we loop through the movie first without, then with the helpful arrows.
1.7 MB MPEG

Here are a few more details about the Kuiper Belt Movie:

More Kuiper Belt Info...

Further information on the Kuiper Belt may be found at:

This page last updated: 10/01/02 by GMB.