Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt: differences

In summary, the formation of solar systems typically results in most of the material lying in a plane due to the least number of collisions and interactions. This plane is determined by the net angular momentum vector of the original nebula. The Kuiper Belt is part of this plane, but the Oort Cloud is more spherical due to its distance and lower density. The Oort Cloud may take longer to settle into a stable orbit due to its distance. The Kuiper Belt is real, while the Oort Cloud is theoretical. The mechanics of very large orbits allow objects to stay or arrive in non-planetary orbits. Colonization of these objects may involve adapting to zero gravity.
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sophiecentaur
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When I read about formation of solar systems it seems reasonable to me that most of the material would end up lying in a plane because the number of collisions and interactions would be least and the most stable situation in a common orbital plane in the long run. (Is this a far too simplistic notion?) The axis of this plane would, presumably be the axis of the net angular momentum vector of the original nebula from which the system was formed as any orbits away from that plane would have net zero angular momentum.

The Kuiper Belt seems to be part of this plane but the Oort Cloud seems to be more spherical. Why would this be? Is the Oort Cloud so far away and such low density that this sorting out mechanism would take much longer than 4 billion years, which was enough to give us our familiar solar system layout? The Oort Cloud is at least one hundred times further out than the Kuiper Belt so settling down time could be much longer as things must have very low orbital speeds out there.
 
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  • #3
Baluncore said:
The Oort clouds are "theoretical".
Right. Thanks - so the "theory" must imply something about the mechanics of very large orbits which allows objects to 'stay' or 'arrive' in non planet-style orbits. Sounds reasonable and not unlike the picture that arrived in my brain.

It seems like the Kuiper and Oort objects would have many of the materials that we could find use for in future big expeditions. Not quite such ridiculous timescales needed to get there as stellar trips. The only thing missing would appear to be useful amounts of sunlight but in the future, it may not be as important to humans.

And that suggests that realistic ideas about colonisation could well involve the race changing to zero g tolerance. Sounds a bit dreary to me but how our descendants might feel about it could be very different. B ut I digress - returning to the thread . . . .
 
  • #4
sophiecentaur said:
... changing to zero g tolerance. Sounds a bit dreary to me but how our descendants ...
With zero g, there is no up nor down, so no descendants.
 
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