JWST observing the Kuiper Belt

Kuiper Belt 

The disposition of Kuiper Belt objects indicates gravitational currents that shaped the Solar System. Scientists are eager to study them

JWST's Powers

In addition to studying exoplanets and early galaxies, JWST's infrared imaging is revealing new views of objects in our own Solar System.

Gonggong and Quaoar

JWST observed these three ~1000 km wide planetoids in the Kuiper Belt using its NIRSpec instrument.

Spectra Reveal Surface 

The spectra revealed abundant ethane, acetylene and ethylene on their surfaces - evidence these bodies retain volatile ices like Pluto and Eris.

Methane on Surfaces

The molecules detected likely come from irradiation of methane. This methane may come from interior processing

Understanding Kuiper Belt 

This provides insight into when KBOs become warm enough for interior processing of ices and can help understand irradiation of surfaces.

New Wavelength Observations

JWST's longer wavelength data enabled detecting these surface ices undetectable from the ground. The data quality also exceeds expectations.

Massive comet with horns approaches Earth