In the most simplestic of terms, Asteroids are rocks of various sizes that orbit the Sun. The majority of asteroids are irregular shaped, Ceres is one that stands out as it spherical in nature. Ceres was upgraded to Dwarf Planet status at the same time that Pluto was downgraded.
Asteroids are also referred to as Minor Planets and the I.A.U. site that monitors them is known as I.A.U. Minor Planet Center . Those that come close to Earth are known as Near Earth Objects.
Asteroids exist in two main areas around the Sun, the first is the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter and the second is in the Kuiper Belt outside the orbit of Neptune, which are also known as Transneptunian Objects . This article is about the belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Kuiper Belt includes the now demoted planet of Pluto to dwarf-planet status.
The vast majority of the asteroids are between those two planets, however there are some that closer in to the Sun and there are some that are further out. A number of asteroids have had close encounters with the Earth such as the asteroid that went past in Jan 2017. Fortunately, the really big ones have not hit for millions of years. An asteroid that does hit the Earths atmosphere is tended to be referred to as a meteor.
Asteroids and meteoroids were created when the universe was young or as a result of a collision. Some travel through space on a circular journey, others erratically. Some asteroids have been known to be the source of meteors showers, the periodic time of year when the Earth passes through a large amount of debris which they burn up in the atmosphere.
Meteroids can also be broken off parts from an asteroid. The main difference can be the size, if its large then its an asteroid, anything smaller is a meteoroid. There is no real clear size definition for when an object is an asteroid or a meteor.
The term Asteroids was coined by Sir William Herschel from the greek asteroeides, aster "star" + -eidos "form, shape". They were discovered after a search was carried out by astronomers who wanted to find out if a theory by Johannes Kepler was correct or not. Kepler predicted that the planets were spaced out according to a pattern of numbers. One of those numbers pointed to a location in space where there was no planet. After searching, the asteroid Ceres was found on the 1st January 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi. Google
One theory is that asteroids are believed to be the remnants of a planet that once existed but was destroyed by the gravitational pull of Jupiter. A second theory has at the beginning of the solar system, debris left over from the creation of the universe bonded together to form planets such as Venus, Mars, Earth and Mercury. However due to Jupiter's gravitational pull, no planet could form between Jupiter and Mars.
After Ceres was discovered, more asteroids were found which led astronomers to the conclusion of a asteroid belt containing hundreds of small and large objects. Their paths are erratic, it is believed that one of these asteroids hit Earth and caused the death of the dinosaurs.
You've also probably seen Farscape episodes such as Bone to be Wild where the crew of Moya hide out in an asteroid field or in the Star Wars film Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back where in order to escape from the chasing Empire, Han Solo flies the Millennium Falcon hides in an asteroid belt and think asteroids are all close together. The truth is that asteroids are not tightly packed in as they are in the film.
Asteroids fall into three categories :-
The biggest asteroid is Ceres, now classed as a dwarf planet. It is situated between Mars and Jupiter and doesn't resemble a planet that we would recognise, i.e. a sphere. It is named after the goddess of harvest.
It was once thought that life hitch-hiked on a comet but after rosetta space probe landed on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko but failed to find any evidence of amino acids, attention has turned to asteroids and meteors.
An asteroid doesn't have to necessarily orbit the Sun to be classed as an asteroid. Oumuamua is said to have come from outside the Solar System and isn't on a circular path round the Sun. N.A.S.A. refer to it as an asteroid so there you go, an asteroid is just a large piece of rock in space.
Low, very low, the last asteroid strike that did real damage was the asteroid that killed the Dinosaurs millions of years ago. Our planet is hit constantly by asteroids, they normally burn up on impact. Those that do make it to land are so tiny that damage is minimal. A few people have been killed by an asteroid but I wouldn't loose sleep over it.
Planets and dwarf planets are named after deities from Mercury to Sedna. Stars are given identification numbers and only bright stars such as Sirius have traditional / proper names. Asteroids can be named after the person who discovered them such as 792 Metcalfia whose discoverer was Joel Hastings Metcalf.
An asteroid can be dedicated to someone, someone who had impressed the discoverer, such as 316201 Malala which was dedicated to the young female rights activist Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who came to world attention when she was shot by the Taliban.
The number associated with an asteroid which for example, 243 is associated with Ida means it is 243rd asteroid to have been discovered. Therefore the asteroid first discovered is also the largest, Ceres. Ceres was once a planet before being downgraded to an asteroid. It was regraded at the same time Pluto was downgraded to that of a Dwarf Planet. As asteroids are being discovered all the time, it is not possible to give you the highest asteroid number, its always changing.
They can also be dedicated to fictional characters such as James Bond, the British fictional spy or to Donald Duck, the Disney cartoon character. James Bond's asteroid's ID is 9007 so it was thought logical at the time to name the asteroid after the character. In conclusion, if you want an asteroid named after you, all you need to do is to discover an asteroid or do something good that will get peoples attention.
Wrong, the first such asteroid that was discovered to have a moon was Asteroid 243 Ida. It was first acknowledged that asteroids could have moons in February 1994 when scientists discovered that when the Galileo space probe flew past on 28th August 1993, the probe had taken a photo of Ida and its moon Dactyl. N.A.S.A.
Ida is named after the Greek Mythical Nymph Ida who looked after Zeus when he was a baby. Dactyl is the name of mythical creatures that lived on Mount Ida on Crete, a Greek Island.
The table below details a number of asteroids whose information is made available from the N.A.S.A. website. Clicking on a link will allow you to see more information and possibly a photo of the asteroid in question. If you want more information on asteroids then visit the NASA site. Some pages when selected will contain a picture of the asteroid, some will contain the path the asteroid takes. If I have not generated a path picture for the asteroid you want, visit the NASA Asteroid Simulator and replace 'CERES' with the asteroid you want e.g. Chiron. For some asteroids you will need to enter Number with the Name appended. For the FF asteroid, enter the name 1995FF to get the details.
|Name||Orbital Period||Orbital Eccentricity|
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|who was the discover|
|Donald, good point, I will check and correct my information.|
|You have a great web site! Should not you list the last column of the asteroid data as (Earth) years, and not days? Even a high-speed bullet couldn't travel around the 'Sun' within the times stated.|
|what is the real meaning of asteroids and which mineral does it contain|