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Vast Oort Cloud Surrounds our Solar System

The Oort Cloud is a vast area full of billions of comets and icy bodies that surrounds the solar system. The Oort Cloud has developed into a shell-like structure that began about 4.5 billion years ago. It is a spherical layer that extends far beyond our solar system that astronomers just recently began studying.

Since the cloud is so far away from the Sun, it is easily affected by any object that passes by it. For example, if a star or comet passes by, their gravitational pulls could possibly pull objects from the Oort Cloud. Some astronomers believe that the Oort Cloud was first formed closer to the Sun and over time it was pushed out by our gas giants such as Jupiter, Saturn and others.

Similar to the Oort Cloud, is the Kuiper Belt, which is a disk-like ring that consists of comets and icy bodies that extends from Pluto to the far edge of our solar system. The Kuiper Belt resides inside the Oort Cloud and scientists continue to study more about the relationship between these celestial objects. The Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud both contain comets and asteroids. Some scientists believe that some of the comets in our solar system have come from either the Oort Cloud or the Kuiper Belt.

Each day scientists learn more about the Oort Cloud and its relationships with other objects in space.

[Sources: nineplanets.org; NASA]

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