The Kuiper Belt
IN 1943, Irish Astronomer Kenneth Edgeworth had suggested that some other planets and comets could exist beyond the 8th planet Neptune.
Dutch Astronomer Jan Oort first proposed in 1950 that a few comets might come from the edge of the solar system.
In 1951, a Netherland-born American Astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper (pronounced "koy-per")of the University of Chicago predicted that the existence of a belt of icy bodies would be discovered, beyond Neptune and Pluto.
The Kuiper Belt was realized and officially discovered in 1992 by David Jewitt and Jane Luu, when they found the first Kuiper Belt Object (KBO 1992QB1).
They named the Kuiper Belt after the Astronomer Gerard Kuiper based on his predicted theories.
The Kuiper Belt is a shadowy disk-like icy area beyond the orbit of Neptune and Pluto, and the area ,farther out would later became known as the Oort cloud.
On some occasions, the orbit of Neptune disrupts the orbit of a Kuiper Belt comet, causing it to fall into the central solar system. Jupiter or another planet would then trap the intermediate comets into becoming Jupiter-period comets.
The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt found between Mars and Jupiter, although the objects have a tendency to be more icy, rather than rocky.
The belt also contains several dwarf planets. These are spherical planets that do not qualify as planets because they’re too small, have an odd orbit, and they don’t clean-up the space around them the way the 8 major planets do.
Astronomers announced in July 2005, the discovery of an object in the Kuiper Belt and thought that, at the time, to be larger than Pluto. Named Eris, it orbits the sun approximately once every 580 years.
After Eris' was discovered some astronomers had a dilemma of continuing to classify Pluto a major planet, and in 2006, Pluto, Eris, and the large asteroid Ceres were reclassified as dwarf planets. In 2008 two more dwarf planets, were discovered in the Kuiper Belt, named Haumea and Makemake.
In 2006 NASA dispatched the New Horizons Spacecraft. This spacecraft is approximately halfway between Earth and Pluto, its dramatic flight past the icy planet, its moons, and the Kuiper Belt will happen in July 2015.