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Dozens of rocky bodies that are part of a sea of small rocky
fragments never observed before have been spotted in the
suburbs of our solar system beyond planet Neptune,
thanks to a novel technique.
These newly detected chunks of dust and rock coined
Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNO) are smaller than
330 feet (100 meters) across. They are leftovers from the
formation of planets.
Based on this finding, the researchers estimate that the number
of TNOs reaches around a quadrillion, rather than the mere
billions to a trillion as previously thought.
This shows an extremely dense disk of material at the outer
edges of the solar system mostly populated by smaller bodies,
Cooray said. "Since these are leftover material from the solar
system formation process, it says that the original disk from
which the planets formed was more massive at distances around
Neptune than previously suggested and in strong conflict with
some of the early models for the formation of Kuiper Belt Objects."