What is the mass of the Kuiper belt? Obviously estimates will be highly uncertain, but for my application I would like to find a decent current estimate.

The papers I found so far: (Gladman et al. 2001) estimates it to 0.1 Earth-masses, (Trujillo, Lewitt & Luu 2001) gets the mass of bodies between 100 km and 2000 km to 0.03 Earth-masses, (Kenyon & Bromley 2004) estimate on the order of 0.5 Earth-masses (assuming a starting mass of 10 and then losing 95%), (Fraser et al 2014) estimate just $\sim$0.01 Earth-masses.

These papers are a bit old, and I suspect there have been more recent observations improving on the estimates. There is a fair number of papers discussing how to resolve this discrepancy between disk models predicting 10-30 Earth-masses and these low numbers, but I am more interested in empirical estimates.

So, what is the current consensus on the Kuiper belt mass and its uncertainty?

  • $\begingroup$ Which disk models are you quoting? There are models of the early solar system with Kuiper belts of 10-30 Earth masses, but they need to be that massive in order to destabilize Uranus and Neptune. So that's not a recent estimate. $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape Aug 31 '18 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries - So you gave me a reference I already had in my post and suggested I read its citations. Sure, you can get an upvote. $\endgroup$ – Anders Sandberg Sep 1 '18 at 14:48

Surprisingly, I also have not been able to find any generally recent (5 years or less ago) information about this topic.

I did find a research paper from 2007 (Here). You may want to check out page 11 in Section 4.3. It states that the maximum mass of the Kuiper Belt is 0.1 Earth masses. They also talk about how it was estimated and such.

I haven't been able to find anything else besides Wikipedia articles (which you probably aren't looking for).

Very strange how there hasn't been a lot of research on this. An intriguing topic, I must say.

That's all I could find... Hope that helps...?

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