Lesser known facts about Asteroids

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Asteroids have always been a subject of mystery for scientists and form an interesting part of the solar system. These celestial bodies have also had representations in books and movies and a lot of research continues to be conducted about its function and origins. They primarily comprise of rocks and metals and the highest concentration lies in what is known as the Asteroid belt located between the orbits of planets Mars and Jupiter.

Here are some more facts about Asteroids:

  • Research reveals that the whole process of evolution, extinction of animals like dinosaurs, and creation of an inhabitable atmosphere on Earth is partly owing to the celestial objects called Asteroids. The collisions and impacts that it left are believed to be the reason behind all of this.
  • A lot of theories exist about the formation of asteroids, common ones being that they are explosion debris from Jupiter and Mars or formed due to collision of other celestial objects.
  • The most popular Big Bang theory says that these are debris left behind that could not form into a planet due to the gravitational force of Jupiter.
  • On an average about 100 tons of asteroid debris are plummeted towards the earth which appear to the naked human eye as mere dust particles, some of the larger ones of which brighten up the sky or land as ‘shooting stars’ burning as they enter through the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Asteroids just like planets have their own orbits. Some of the orbits have shifted closer to the Earth and is closer than the moon and this occurrence can be seen several times in a year.
  • While comets, another category of celestial objects find their names after their discoverers, Asteroids on the other hand are named after a variety of things including names of locations, scientists, celebrities etc. Some are even numbered for example the 99942 Apophis 2956 Yeomans.
  • Asteroids are differentiated from comets by its lack of the fuzzy tail present in comets known as coma.
  • Asteroids have varying sizes, the largest one being Ceres which has a diameter of 1000kms while the smallest ones are as little as few feet.
  • In 1994 the Shoemaker Levy Comet collided with the Earth’s surface and had created considerable damage post which quite a few films were made based on the incident like Deep Impact and Armageddon.
  • Asteroids are always found in groups in the solar system and the groups are even named. Some of the main ones are the Kuiper belt, Trojans and Scattered Disc. Scattered Disc is believed to be the origin for many comets that are periodic in nature.


Over the years technology has improved to a great extent and nowadays more powerful equipment are used for scientific research with stronger theories being based on them. Collisions of Asteroids with Earth, although rare, can have significant impact but advanced research has helped in predicting its pathway and taking precautions by adopting ways to deflect or destroy them before they can cause widespread damage. Many asteroids that have fallen and created craters on the Earth’s surface have also helped in research and the minerals present in them have even created mining communities like the one in Sudbury.

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