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Keith Noll
Icy Worlds at the Edge of the Solar System

The Kuiper belt is one of the most exciting regions for exploration and scientific research in planetary science. In The Twilight Zone, a series of chapter-length essays will each focus on an important aspect of our growing understanding of the Kuiper Belt. The book will be written with aesthetics as the primary driver rather than a more didactic pedagogy, describing basic concepts through the use of colorful analogies and metaphors before introducing the unsolved and intriguing questions that motivate researchers.

The first chapter will detail the hunt for planets after the discovery of Pluto, starting where many other books leave off. The discovery of Chiron in 1978 was the first hint of what we now know to be the Kuiper belt and Centaurs. Although other bright objects including UB313 could have been discovered at the same time, it was not until the invention of the CCD and its application to astronomy in the early 1990s that 1992QB1 was eventually revealed. We now know more than 1000 KBOs.

The second chapter will look at the exquisite structure in the solar systems "terminal moraine", while the third chapter will take on the perplexing diversity of colors and albedos seen in the Kuiper Belt. The fourth chapter will relate the fascinating hypothesis by Hal Levison and Alessandro Morbidelli that explains not only the origin of the Kuiper belt, but traces the early migrations of the giant planets as they interacted with the remains of the protoplanetary disc and with each other. Chapter 5 will detail the surprising number of binaries that are being found in the Kuiper belt while the final chapter will cover the definition of a planet by explaining that objects in the Kuiper belt represent, in some ways, the most "normal" objects in orbit around the Sun and that the Earth and giant planets are unusual exceptions to this norm.

Written for:
Popular Science enthusiasts.

  • Bodies
  • Edge
  • Ice

Table of contents:
  • The New Worlds: a modern voyage of exploration
  • Terminal Moraine
  • Technicolor
  • A Fairy-Tale Beginning
  • One is the Loneliest Number
  • A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Springer Berlin, 2007
24,72 Euro
Broschiert, w. 20 figs.
ISBN: 978-0-387-71670-1

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