Orbiting the sun, along with the planets, are millions of planetary bodies known as asteroids. Asteroids are lumps of rock, minerals and ice, ranging in size from a few metres across to planet-like bodies hundreds of kilometres in diameter. Asteroids are usually formed in the early stage of the solar system and are remnants left over from the creation of the planets. The article provides you with useful facts about Asteroids.
The Asteroid Belt Most asteroids orbit the sun between the planets Mars and Jupiter, an area known as the Asteroid Belt. The Asteroid Belt contains millions of asteroids, many of which are larger than one kilometre in diameter. The largest asteroid, Ceres, once thought of as a planet, is 950 km wide and several others exceed 500 km in diameter. Other than the largest of these asteroids, which are spherical due to the strength of their gravity, most asteroids are irregularly shaped and pitted with craters. Do asteroids pose a threat to the Earth? Due to the strong gravitational pull of Jupiter, asteroids often stray from the Asteroid Belt and head towards the sun, crossing the Earth’s orbit. More than 7,000 known asteroids orbit close to the Earth, with an estimated 1,000 of them which can be at more than one kilometre in diameter. Due to the size and speed of near-Earth asteroids, they pose a real threat to our planet. Evidence suggests an asteroid impact caused the dinosaur’s extinction 65 million years ago, and yet, many other asteroids have struck the Earth since.