What is the asteroid belt?

We explain to you what the asteroid belt is and what is its distance from the Sun. In addition, theories about how it originated.

  1. What is the asteroid belt?

It is known as the asteroid belt or main belt to a region of our solar system located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars , that is, separating the inner planets from the outer ones. It is characterized by housing a multitude of rocky astronomical objects, irregularly shaped and of different sizes, known as asteroids, and accompanied by the dwarf planet Ceres.

The name of the main Belt is given to differentiate it from other groups of space objects in the Solar System , such as the Kuiper Belt, located behind the orbit of Neptune ; or like the Oort Cloud, in the very confines of the Solar System, almost a light-year from the Sun.

The asteroid belt is composed of several million celestial bodies , classifiable into three types: carbonaceous (type-C), silicates (type-S) and metallic (type-M). The largest objects present are five: Shovels, Vesta, Higia, Juno and the largest of all: Ceres, classified as a dwarf planet, with a diameter of 950 km. These objects make up more than half of the mass of the main belt, equivalent to just 4% of the mass of the Moon (0.06% of the earth’s mass).

Although the representations are shown close, forming a compact cloud, the truth is that these asteroids are so far apart, that it would be difficult to navigate that region of space and run into one . On the other hand, due to the usual orbital oscillations that they present, due to their eventual approaches to the orbit of Jupiter (and, therefore, due to the effects of their gravity ), many asteroids leave the whole and are thrown into outer space, or even against some of the inner planets.

  1. Asteroid belt distance from the Sun

The objects that make up the asteroid belt orbit between Jupiter and Mars, between 2.1 and 3.4 Astronomical Units (AU) of the Sun , that is, between 314.155.527 and 508.632.758 kilometers away from the Astro King .

  1. Asteroid Belt Origin

Asteroid belt
The asteroid belt can be part of the protosolar nebula.

The most accepted theory regarding the origin of the asteroid belt is part of the protosolar nebula from which the entire solar system came. That is, it could well be the result of dispersed matter that failed to form a larger body , partly due to the interference of gravitational waves from Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. This would have caused the rock fragments to crash into each other or expelled them into space, surviving in a way that is only 1% of the initial total mass.

Older hypotheses suggest that the asteroid belt would have been some planet formed from the primitive nebula , but that it had been destroyed by some orbital impact or by internal explosions. However, this hypothesis seems unlikely given the low mass of the belt in contrast to the very high amounts of energy that would be needed to blow up a planet in that way.

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