originally posted by: theboarman
every time i hear about us finding new things in space it always seems to be straight away from us relatively speaking, so my questions are do we look
for plants above / below us and have we found any above or below us?
originally posted by: AdmireTheDistance
Well, there is no "above" or "below" in space, but I assume you're talking about the directions 'up' and 'down' from the Earth's poles. My initial
guess would be that yes, we have detected exoplanets in those directions, but honestly, I don't know. I'm sure Jade will be by shortly with a more
I think theboarman was talking about finding objects which are part of our solar system though.
So here is the answer.....
Before our solar system was formed there was a big cloud of gas and dust. Eventually this cloud of gas and dust collapsed in on itself and began
Ever make a pizza? You start with a big ball of dough and if you've ever seen some of the best pizza makers in action you see them spin that ball so
it flattens out.
That's what happens when planetary systems begin forming. Before the planets there is a big disk of dust and gas rotating. The star forms in the
center due to a lot of material coalescing there and planets form in the disc.
We know this because we can see it happening around other stars right now.
Here is an infographic which illustrates the process:
Ok so now the Solar System is formed and all the major planets orbit in the same plane (called "The Plane of the Ecliptic" or simply "The
However some things left over from the disk, WAY far out remain. Beyond Neptune is a belt of stuff left over called the Kuiper Belt.
Objects further out than Neptune in the Kuiper Belt often have orbits inclined or tilted in relationship to the ecliptic:
Objects in the Kuiper belt have orbital periods of 150 years to 500 years. Some of these objects have been discovered and have orbits which cross the
orbit of Neptune. These objects are called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOS).
TNOs have been given names. Here are eight of them:
Pluto has an orbit like them and has not cleared its orbit, but rather shares it with other TNOS which we consider Pluto part of that family of
objects, it's just the nearest one. It's a minor planet from the Kuiper Belt just as Ceres is a minor planet from the Asteroid Belt.
TNOs are hard to spot. While Pluto was discovered in 1930, the next TNO was not found until 1992 because the invention of the CCD allowed them to be
found. Another case of technology developed for other uses (in this case, cheap home video cameras) allowing for a whole new era of discovery in
There have been many TNOs and KBOs found since then.
There is an even bigger area of leftover stuff further out called the Oort Cloud, the "shell" in the graphic below:
This is where a lot of long period comets come from. Comets also often have orbits which are inclined in relation with the ecliptic.
Objects in the Oort Cloud have orbital periods ranging from centuries to thousands of years.
Since comets could potentially pose a great threat to Earth there have been surveys for objects above and below the ecliptic and this is an ongoing
area monitored by amateur and professional astronomers who look to discover any objects there.
I hope this answers your question
edit on 17-9-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)