The Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, commonly known as the Kuiper Belt, is a large area that is filled with thousands of ancient objects that date back to the early days of our universe. Called Kuiper Belt Objects, these giant stones are thought to be remains from the early stages of our solar system, when the planets were forming. For years it was thought that small KBOs, measuring less than 1 kilometer in diameter, could exist. The theory seemed to be viable but no one was able to find and prove the existence of such a small object until now.
A short presentation on how planets form
When the dust released by the Big Bang explosion settled a series of rocks started to appear. These rocks were attracted by each other and began to form boulders, which in their turn lead to the formation of large conglomerates that continued to grow as time passed. A practical example would be represented by the large asteroids that travel through space. They can be studied in order to learn some information but they have been compromised by the exposure to solar radiation and solar winds.
Since the Kuiper Belt has an incredibly low temperature and a relatively safe position (being located close to the orbit of Neptune) a large number of the Kuiper Belt Objects are in pristine condition. By analyzing them the researchers are able to learn more about the mechanics that lead to the formation of large agglomerations and to the birth of some of the rocky planets that have been identified.
Many researchers have tried to locate small KBOs without success. The landmark discovery was made by an independent team called OASES (Organized Auto-telescopes for Serendipitous Event Survey). The monitored over 2000 stars with the help of two telescopes.
While analyzing the data the team was able to observe that star became dimmer when an object that measured approximately 1.3 kilometers passes right by the front of it. The discovery proves that small Kuiper Belt Objects are real and exist in large numbers.
The results could provide valuable information about the origins of the planets that can be found in our solar system.