The Solar System is one of the most mesmerizing and vast natural phenomena in the known universe. Composed of planets, satellites, asteroids, comets and astrophysical bodies that revolve around a star – our Sun – the spectacular shell of the Solar System presents the awe-inspiring complexity of the larger universe.
It is beyond Neptune. It is a collection of space bodies that envelops our system. It is called the Oort Cloud, and is the shell of the Solar System.
In the farthest outlying place, at the edge of our Solar System, is the Oort Cloud. This cloud is a spherical shell that completely surrounds it. It is made of thousands or perhaps millions of pieces of icy space bodies. This huge region has never been documented by conventional means of recording. But its existence can be known from the behavior of space entities.
Home of comets
It was first studied in the 1950s. The cloud was named after the astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort, who was involved in the investigation of this region of the Solar System. But the first astronomer to propose its existence was Ernst Öpik, in 1932. He devoted himself to the study of long-period comets.
Initially, the elements that make up the cloud were part of the stars surrounding the Sun. The planets formed 4.6 billion years ago. In the beginning, they shed pieces of space matter called planetesimals across the universe. These objects had very different fates. While some were ejected from the Solar System, others remained inside. Scientific theory proposes that the region is made up of the space matter resulting from this process.
What are long-period comets? They are those whose orbit is so long that they can take up to 30 million years to complete a trip around the sun. They are made up of probably trillions of space objects. And the Oort cloud is home to phenomena such as long-period comets.
Its distant location at the center of the solar system prompted the hypothesis proposing it as the home of long-period comets. The Oort Cloud is one of the three known comet reservoirs as of today. The other two are the Kuiper belt and the asteroid belt.
Space holds a myriad of mysteries to be solved. Science has joined forces over the years to unravel them. And in the shell of our Solar System, there are still infinite questions to be solved.