Mass of the Kuiper belt

  • E. V.  PitjevaEmail author
  • N. P. Pitjev
Original Article


The Kuiper belt includes tens of thousand of large bodies and millions of smaller objects. The main part of the belt objects is located in the annular zone between 39.4 and 47.8 au from the Sun; the boundaries correspond to the average distances for orbital resonances 3:2 and 2:1 with the motion of Neptune. One-dimensional, two-dimensional, and discrete rings to model the total gravitational attraction of numerous belt objects are considered. The discrete rotating model most correctly reflects the real interaction of bodies in the Solar system. The masses of the model rings were determined within EPM2017—the new version of ephemerides of planets and the Moon at IAA RAS—by fitting spacecraft ranging observations. The total mass of the Kuiper belt was calculated as the sum of the masses of the 31 largest trans-Neptunian objects directly included in the simultaneous integration and the estimated mass of the model of the discrete ring of TNO. The total mass is \((1.97 \pm 0.35)\times 10^{-2} \ m_{\oplus }\). The gravitational influence of the Kuiper belt on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune exceeds at times the attraction of the hypothetical 9th planet with a mass of \(\sim 10 \ m_{\oplus }\) at the distances assumed for it. It is necessary to take into account the gravitational influence of the Kuiper belt when processing observations and only then to investigate residual discrepancies to discover a possible influence of a distant large planet.


Dynamical model of motion of the Solar system EPM2017—ephemerides of planets and the Moon Radar LLR Optic observations Mass of the Kuiper belt 9th planet 



The authors are very grateful to Dr. Dmitry Pavlov for the software for the development of the EPM2017 ephemerides (inclusion of the Lense–Thirring acceleration into model, improved relativistic barycenter definition, modeling the acceleration of the Sun as a regular body, integration of isochronous derivatives). They would like also to thank Mariya Bodunova for calculation of the influence of rings and the 9th planet on other planets.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Applied Astronomy of Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.St. Petersburg State UniversityPetrodvoretzRussia

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