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Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies or remnants from when the Solar System formed.

While many asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, most Kuiper belt objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed "ices"), such as methane, ammonia and water.

As they approach the Sun, its heat causes their volatile surfaces to sublimate into space, gradually dispersing them.

In order for comets to continue to be visible over the age of the Solar System, they must be replenished frequently.

The Kuiper belt was initially thought to be the main repository for periodic comets, those with orbits lasting less than 200 years.

Studies since the mid-1990s have shown that the belt is dynamically stable and that comets' true place of origin is the scattered disc, a dynamically active zone created by the outward motion of Neptune 4.5 billion years ago; The Kuiper belt is distinct from the theoretical Oort cloud, which is a thousand times more distant and is mostly spherical.

Using telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, Jewitt and Luu conducted their search in much the same way as Clyde Tombaugh and Charles Kowal had, with a blink comparator.

In a paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1980, Uruguayan astronomer Julio Fernández stated that for every short-period comet to be sent into the inner Solar System from the Oort cloud, 600 would have to be ejected into interstellar space.The region now called the Kuiper belt was hypothesized in various forms for decades.It was only in 1992 that the first direct evidence for its existence was found.The Kuiper belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Haumea and Makemake.Some of the Solar System's moons, such as Neptune's Triton and Saturn's Phoebe, may have originated in the region.

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