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- THE END -

This map of the Solar System ends here but there is plenty more out there beyond Pluto! We are now at the edge of the Kuiper Belt, which is a large region orbiting the Sun that contains hundreds of thousands of objects (the most notorious of which being Pluto). This is the region where recently two scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, announced evidence that a body nearly the size of Neptune—but as yet unseen—orbits the sun every 15,000 years. During the solar system’s infancy 4.5 billion years ago, they say, the giant planet was knocked out of the planet-forming region near the sun. Slowed down by gas, the planet settled into a distant elliptical orbit, where it still lurks today.

New Horizons, the spacecraft that made the historic Pluto flyby is set continue its journey to study another Kuiper Belt object up close and NASA have already identified two potential targets for this second flyby, which would likely occur in early 2019. Both bodies — named 2014 MU69 and 2014 PN70 — lie about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) beyond Pluto, which is nearly 3 billion miles (4.8 billion km) from Earth at the moment.

After the Kuiper Belt there is pretty much just empty space. A lot of empty space. The closest Solar System to our own lies at about 4.22 light years away from the Sun. This is about 24 trillion miles (38.6 trillion km), so we would need a map about 6,558 bigger than this one to get there. Maybe some other time...

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