Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Solar System, Outer

  • William M. IrvineEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_4012-2


The informal phrase “outer Solar System” normally refers to the region of the giant planets and beyond, corresponding to distances from the Sun ≥5 AU. The outer Solar System thus also includes almost all comets during most of their orbital periods, as well as centaurs and objects in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. As a result of the low temperatures in this region, solid objects contain a much higher percentage of volatiles such as water and other ices than the rocky objects closer to the Sun.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of Massachusetts, Lederle Graduate Research Tower B 619EAmherstUSA