Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 92, Issue 1–4, pp 1–27 | Cite as

The Kuiper Belt and its Primordial Sculpting

  • A. Morbidelli
  • M.E. Brown
  • H.F. Levison


We discuss the structure of the Kuiper belt as it can be inferred from the first decade of observations. In particular, we focus on its most intriguing properties – the mass deficit, inclination distribution, the apparent existence of an outer edge and of a correlation among inclinations, colours and sizes – which clearly show that the belt has lost its pristine structureof a dynamically cold proto-planetary disk. Understanding how the Kuiperbelt acquired its present structure will provide insight into the formationof the outer planetary system and on its early evolution. We outline ascenario of primordial sculpting – issued from a combination of mechanismsproposed by various authors – that seems to explain most of the observedproperties of the Kuiper belt. Several aspects are not yet totallyclear. But, for the first time, we have a view – if not of the detailedsculpture – at least of its rough cast.


Colour Early Evolution Outer Edge Planetary System Present Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Morbidelli
    • 1
  • M.E. Brown
    • 2
  • H.F. Levison
    • 3
    • 1
  1. 1.Observatoire de la Côte d'AzurNiceFrance
  2. 2.California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaCalifornia
  3. 3.SWRIBoulder

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