The Small Bodies of the Solar System

Our neighborhood around the sun may appear to be dominated by the eight known planets, a handful of dwarf planets, and their moons, but the spaces between these titans are teeming with smaller, lesser-known objects. The International Astronomical Union defines anything orbiting the sun that is not a planet, dwarf planet, or natural satellite as a “small solar-system body.” This includes asteroids, comets, trans-Neptunian objects, minor planets, and basically any other blob of natural material, right down to the smallest meteorite. With ground-based telescopes and specialized space probes, we’ve been able to image and even visit a great number of these small objects recently, discovering a wild array of shapes, sizes, and compositions.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Peter White / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Firefly Forest, Husky Club, Turnip Toss

    Frustration at the Australian Open, a light show in London, Republic Day parade rehearsals in India, snow cover in Yosemite Valley, anti-government protests in Peru, and much more

  • Yannick Gouguenheim / Ocean Art

    Winners of the 2022 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

    Some of the top images from the 14 categories of underwater photography in this year’s competition

  • Toby Melville / Reuters

    2023 Lunar New Year Celebrations

    People around the world ushered in the Year of the Rabbit with displays of fireworks, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals.

  • Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Epiphany Dips, Pet Blessings, Chicken Feet

    A theater festival in Chile, horses leaping through flames in Spain, a Russian missile strike in Ukraine, a green field in Saudi Arabia, and much more