Main Asteroid Belt

In our solar system, the Main Asteroid Belt is located between which two objects?

And the answer: Mars and Jupiter.    

The Main Asteroid Belt is a ring of large rocks, including asteroids and minor planets, that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroids vary in size: the smallest ones resemble boulders, while the largest, known as Vesta, is about 326 miles across.

Image credit: Mdf at English Wikipedia - Public Domain.

During the creation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, most swirling clouds of dust and gas coalesced to become planets. However, the powerful gravity of Jupiter had other ideas. Instead of forming a planet, a gaseous, rocky region between Mars and Jupiter remained caught in the gravitational pull of the two planets, where it remains today.

There are hundreds of thousands of rocks and other floating debris in the Main Asteroid Belt, yet the grand majority of its mass is comprised of just four objects: the dwarf planet of Ceres, and three other asteroids called Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea. Ceres is a whopping 590 miles in diameter, while the other large asteroids clock in at around 300 miles across. While this may seem massive, the Main Asteroid Belt is larger still, with the distance between objects measuring in at about 24 times the size of Earth.

Discovery of the Main Asteroid Belt dates back to 1801. An astronomer named Giuseppe Piazzi first noticed dwarf planet Ceres in the night sky, before then identifying its asteroid siblings. Over the next few decades, as more and more asteroids were identified, astronomers began calling the region “the asteroid belt." By the year 2000, over 100,000 asteroids had been discovered.

Learn more about the Main Asteroid Belt and its associated qualities below.


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