Oort Cloud

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Oort Cloud[edit]

The Oort cloud is made up of spherical clouds consisting of icy debris from space that is very far from our solar system. It is presumed to take the form of a shell, surrounding the Sun, planets and Kuiper Belt Objects (NASA, 2019). The Oort Cloud is believed to be the source where some of the long-period comets, resulting in the Oort Cloud occasionally being described as a “cometary reservoir." (NASA, 2019)


The first idea of the Oort Cloud theory originated by Armin Otto Leuschner in 1907. He studied the orbits of comets quite a ton and was the first to ever propose the theory on the Oort Cloud. A few other people have also brought up the ideology of the Oort Cloud, like Ernst Öpik in 1932. The Estonian astronomer proposed that long-term comets surrounded the edge of our solar system, creating a cloud-like structure. One of the stronger proposals was by Jan Oort, from which the cloud’s name was derived from. Oort was a Dutch astronomer who described the theoretical concept of the cloud through long-term meteor behaviour in 1950, though the Oort Cloud had not yet been observed through a telescope. From lots of observation of meteors and hypothesizing, these astronomers have concluded that the Oort cloud surrounds the sun and is the location of where the meteoroids and other kinds of space debris are.


The Oort Cloud lies on the “most distant edges of the Kuiper Belt (NASA, 2019). The distance from the Sun to the Oort Cloud can be measured in astronomical units (AU), which is the same distance between Earth and the Sun. One AU is equal to 150 million kilometres and the distance between the Sun and the inner edge of the Oort Cloud is estimated to be between 2,000 and 5,000 AU, with the outer edge being around 10,000 or even 100,000 AU from the Sun (NASA, 2019).


While planets orbit the Sun in an orbital rotation, whilst the Oort cloud contains objects that do not rotate in the same direction and often travel at different inclinations. The reason why the cloud exists is because of the sun’s gravity that is pulling comets and meteors towards the solar system.


Though the Oort Cloud does not have a distinct purpose, the Oort Cloud does contribute by moving and storing comets or other debris.


NASA. (2019, December 19) Oort Cloud In Depth. Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/amp/s/solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/oort-cloud/in-depth.amp

NASA. (2019, June 6) Oort Cloud. Retrieved from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/oort-cloud/overview/

Wikipedia (2021) Oort cloud. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oort_cloud

Matt W. (2015) What is the Oort Cloud? Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-oort-cloud.html