BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39

ACADEMIC READING TEST 39 – PASSAGE – 3

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39

ACADEMIC READING TEST 39

READING PASSAGE – 3

You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 27 – 40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

The Kuiper Belt

Located in the region of the Solar System beyond the planets (from 30 AU At Neptune’s orbit to circa 55 AU from the sun), the Kuiper Belt, or Edgeworth – Kuiper Belt as many scientists prefer to call it, is similar to an asteroid belt though far greater in size, being 20 times as wide and potentially 200 time as massive. Like asteroid belts, the Kuiper is composed of small celestial bodies, the scattered remnants – the left over junk if you like – from the formation of the Solar System, but unlike asteroid belts whose objects are largely composed of rock and metal, the Kuiper’s objects consist of what are termed ‘frozen volatiles’: methane, ammonia and water in ice from, for example. Another significant differentiating factor between the Kuiper and asteroid belts is the presence in the former of at least for dwarf planets, the most well-known of which is Pluto, which, until 2006, was actually classed as a plant in its own right. The belt has also previously been home to other large objects such as Saturn’s moon phoebe and Neptune’s triton, which originated in the region before coming under the influence of the gravitational force of their respective planets.

Though the existence of a phenomenon like the belt had been hypothesised for some time, its existence wasn’t officially confirmed until 1992, since when over me thousand Kuiper Belt objects(KBOs) have been officially observed. On the basis of what we know about the region, it is speculated that the actual number of KBOs measuring over 100km in diameter is far in excess of 70,000 Initially, it was speculated that the Kuiper region was responsible for the appearance of most periodic comets (comets whose orbit lasts less than 200 years), but studies conducted in the mid-90s appear to contradict this assumption and cast the Kuiper region as one which is dynamically stable and, thus, not the repository of periodic comets on now though to be in the father regions of the Solar System outside of the Kuiper belt in an area referred to as the scattered disc, though to have been created by the outward motion of Neptune several billion years ago. Scattered-disc object are KBO-like bodies with orbits which take them as far as 100 AU from the sun, far beyond the 50 AU boundary of the Kuiper Belt itself.

Pluto is the largest-known Kuiper Belt orbits and also the tenth most massive body observed directly orbiting the sun. It was reclassified a Dwarf planet after it was discovered to be more similar compositionally to KBOs than the major planets, being comprised of rock and ice. Its orbital period is also identical to that of another group of KBOs, referred to as plutinos in its honor. Alongside Pluto, a further three dwarf planets have now been observed within the Kuiper Belt, and these are collectively referred to as plutoids: another patent tribute to the former plane.

The Kuiper’s close proximity to Neptune has a profound effect on its structure due to the consequent orbital resonance (gravitation influence) at work on it. Neptune’s gravity destabilises the orbits of objects lying within centain regions of the Kuiper, doing one of two things: either sending them father out into the scattered disc region of interstellar space, or into the linear Solar System. For this reason, the Kuiper is characterised by a series of pronounced gaps in the current layout, similar to the gaps present in the asteroid belt on which gravitational forces are also constantly at work.

The classical belt is the region of the Kuiper between 42-48 AU. Here the gravitational influence of Neptune is negligible, so KBOs largely unmolested. This region accounts for about two-thirds of all KBOs observed to date. Within the classical belt are two distinct population of KBO defined by their differing orbits. The ‘dynamically hot’ population is characterised by more pronounced elliptical orbits. Not only are the populations at odds in their orbits, they are also compositionally distinct. The cold population has a red hue not evident in the hot population (the name cold population are not in any way indicative of temperature). It is thought that the hot population therefore formed in a different region near Jupiter before being injected outward by movement among the gas giants, whereas the cold formed roughly where it is still situated, just outside of the orbital range of Neptune.

Questions 27 – 32

Complete the timeline diagram below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39

Questions 33 – 38

Complete the notes below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE KUIPER BELT

– Located in the part of the Solar System which is beyond the planets.

– Wider and much more (33)……………………………………… than asteroid belts.

– Comprised of small celestial bodies.

– KBOs dissimilar to asteroid compositionally – composed of frozen volatiles rather than (34)……………………………………………..

– Contains four known dwarf planets.

– Existence of dwarf planets is another distinguishing feature between it and (35)…………………………….…. .

– Though (36)………………………………….. to exist for many years, presence of belt only confirmed in 1992.

– Now an estimated 70,000 KBOs in existence.

– Contrary to initial theories, not responsible for the majority of (37)……………………………………., which are now believed to come from further out in the Solar System.

– Pluto is the largest KBO and tenth most massive object in orbit around the sun.

– A further three dwarf planets have been Indentified.

– Neptune’s influence has affected the (38)……………………………………………… of the Kuiper Belt, producing a series of pronounced gaps therein.

Questions 39 – 40

Complete the clear chart below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 39

ANSWERS ARE BELOW

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ANSWER KEY

27. AN ASTEROID BELT
28. PLUTOIDS
29. FORMER PLANET
30. DWARF PLANET
31. GRAVITATIONAL INFLUENCE / ORBITAL RESONANCE / GRAVITY
32. HOME TO
33. MASSIVE
34. ROCK AND METALS
35. ASTEROID BELTS
36. HYPOTHESISED
37. PERIODIC COMETS
38. LAYOUT / STRUCTURE
39. (DYNAMICALLY) COLD POPULATION
40. (DYNAMICALLY) HOT POPULATION

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