Artist's Impression of a Kuiper Belt Object
This is an artist's impression of a Kuiper Belt object (KBO), located on the outer rim of our solar system at a staggering distance of 4 billion miles from the Sun. Unlike asteroids, KBOs have not been significantly heated by the Sun, and so are thought to represent a pristine, well preserved, deep-freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4.6 billion years ago. A Hubble survey uncovered three KBOs, ranging from 27 to 35 miles across, that are potentially reachable by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft after it passes by Pluto in mid-2015.
The Sun appears as a bright star at image center in this graphic, which represents the view from the KBO. The Earth and other inner planets are too close to the Sun to be seen in this illustration. The bright "star" to the left of the Sun is the planet Jupiter, and the bright object below the Sun is the planet Saturn. Two bright pinpoints of light to the right of the Sun, midway to the edge of the frame, are the planets Uranus and Neptune, respectively. The planet positions are plotted for late 2018 when the New Horizons probe reaches a distance of 4 billion miles from the Sun. The Milky Way appears in the background.