Oort cloud

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Related to Ort cloud: Kuiper belt, Sedna

Oort cloud

 (ôrt)
n.
A swarm of comets orbiting the sun at a distance of one to two light years, proposed as a source of comets that pass near the sun.

[After Jan Hendrix Oort (1900-1992), Dutch astronomer.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Oort cloud

(ôrt, ōrt)
A sphere-shaped mass of comets that makes up the outer edge of the solar system, surrounding the Kuiper belt and the planets. The more than 100 billion comets in this region orbit the sun at a distance of one to two light-years. Comets from this area that come into the inner solar system take more than 200 years to make one complete orbit. Compare Kuiper belt.
The American Heritage® Student Science Dictionary, Second Edition. Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Oort cloud - (astronomy) a hypothetical huge collection of comets orbiting the sun far beyond the orbit of Pluto; perturbations (as by other stars) can upset a comet's orbit and may send it tumbling toward the sun
astronomy, uranology - the branch of physics that studies celestial bodies and the universe as a whole
aggregation, collection, accumulation, assemblage - several things grouped together or considered as a whole
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"The orbit of the comet indicates that it is coming from the outermost edge of the solar system, the so-called Ort Cloud, which is about 100,000 times more distant from the sun than the Earth," said Donald Yeomans, a senior research scientist who oversees NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Modern comet theory dates back to 1950, when two highly significant models -- the "dirty snowball" and the Ort cloud -- emerged to enliven the field.
With a trillion or more comets inthe Ort Cloud, you might think that comets are closer together there than anywhere else in the solar system--perhaps huddling together, far from the Sun, like one of Dore's illustrations of the souls of the dead.