Interesting facts about asteroids

(ORDO NEWS) — An asteroid is a small space body that consists mainly of stone and / or metal and revolves around the Sun.

Discovery of asteroids

In 1801, the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered a previously unknown object in the solar system , which he mistook for a planet.

He named the newly discovered body Ceres after the ancient Roman goddess of the harvest. Soon after the discovery of Ceres, astronomers began to find many similar objects, so it quickly became clear that neither Ceres nor the new finds are actually planets, but represent some unknown class of celestial bodies.

One of the common features of these objects was their similarity with distant stars observed in telescopes of that time. Due to the fact that these objects seemed like distant stars, they were called asteroids, which translated from Greek means “like the stars.”

Asteroid belt

Most of the known asteroids in the solar system revolve around the sun in the asteroid belt, in the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Although there are hundreds of thousands of objects in the asteroid belt, only about 200 are currently known that are more than 100 kilometers in diameter, making most asteroids really small bodies.

Modern theories suggest that asteroids in the asteroid belt are the leftover “building blocks” of an ancient protoplanet that could not finally form during the development of the solar system. In particular, it is believed that when Jupiter gained its enormous mass, then its gravitational attraction constantly “churned” the matter in the asteroid belt, which prevented their unification to form a planet.

If all the material in the asteroid belt were nevertheless combined, then the diameter of the resulting object, according to scientists, would be about half the diameter of the moon.

Interesting facts about asteroids 2

Some more interesting facts about asteroids

  • The term asteroid, meaning “like a star,” was coined in 1802 by astronomer William Herschel.
  • Ceres is not only the first asteroid discovered, but also the largest known asteroid with a diameter of 946 kilometers. Ceres is commonly classified today as a dwarf planet.
  • The smallest known asteroid, 1991 BA, is only six meters in diameter.
  • Apollo is a class of asteroids whose orbit crosses the Earth’s orbit.
  • According to scientists, about 65 million years ago, a large asteroid fell to Earth, which led to the extinction of dinosaurs and many other representatives of flora and fauna.
  • Most asteroids are irregular in shape because they are too small to have enough gravitational attraction to be aspheric.
  • Some asteroids are comet debris. When the ice evaporates, all that remains is rocky material.
  • A meteoroid (a space body intermediate in size between cosmic dust and an asteroid) the size of a car enters the Earth’s atmosphere on average once a year. Usually, the object is completely burned up in the atmosphere, so that even a grain of it does not reach the surface.


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