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What effect, if any, do the objects in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud have on the orbits or characteristics of the eight major planets?

Jennifer Kroeker, Wichita, Kansas
RELATED TOPICS: SOLAR SYSTEM | KUIPTER BELT | OORT CLOUD
Kuiper-Belt-and-Oort-Cloud
Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud objects can exert gravitational effects on the planets, but the real question is whether such perturbations are detectable. Based on the observation that long-period comets can appear in any part of the sky, we generally think that the Oort Cloud of comets is a near-spherical structure surrounding the solar system at a distance of about 20,000 to 100,000 astronomical units (AU, which is the average Earth-Sun distance) from our star. The nearly spherical nature of the cloud means that there would be no net gravitational effect on planetary orbits — all of the small gravitational pulls would cancel one another out.

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