Over 85 percent of asteroids formed from the same ancient planets

05 July, 2018, 20:53 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Asteroid space news Meteor in space

As the Hayabusa2 spacecraft studies the asteroid Ryugu and the OSIRIS REx mission closes in on the monster rock known as Bennu, a new study conducted by researchers in the United States and the UK may revolutionize how we view the asteroid belt, as well as the meteors that impact Earth. Nevertheless, there are numerous asteroids throughout the solar systems but some like the Chelyabinsk meteor are referred to as near-Earth objects. These frequently come near the earth and moon through meteorites. However, Dermott believes it is important to first understand the different processes that shaped our planet to begin with. Further, she explained, "If we can turn back the clock and see the asteroid belt was made by these big planetesimals that really is telling us something quite definitive about the circumstances that formed our own planet".

These long-dead bodies seem ephemeral and hard to count, with current classifications involving hundreds of asteroid families.

The researchers found that about 85 percent of the asteroids in the inner main belt belonged to the five main asteroid families there. All the asteroids that could be identified by astronomers in the asteroid belt originated from the very same 5 or 6 celestial bodies that existed in ancient times. The opposite held true between their size and orbital inclination - basically, the smaller the rock, the further tilted its orbit is from the flat plane that most objects orbit along.

Dermott's team were able to demonstrate that even the type of orbit that an asteroid has depends on its size, and this finding suggests that the differences in the types of meteorites found on Earth seem that way because of the evolutionary changes that happened on the inside of a few large, minor planets that likely existed in the formative years of the Solar System, more than four billion years ago.


"If ever one of these comes towards the earth, and we want to deflect it, we need to know what its nature is."

"These large bodies whiz by the Earth, so of course we're very concerned about how many of these there are and what types of material are in them", said Stanley Dermott, lead author and a theoretical astronomer at the University of Florida.

They say the asteroids in the inner main belt originate from the Flora, Vesta, Nysa, Polana and Eulalia families.

According to Dermott, his work allows a more clear understanding of the evolutionary history of asteroids and the materials of which they consist. The remaining 15 percent could also fall into those same categories, or a few others that are now unknown.

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