Physical Features of Asteroids

Asteroids are surprisingly controversial. Asteroids, also called minor planets, may be left over from the solar nebula, or they may be a wayward planet that exploded between Mars and Jupiter, the location of the asteroid belt. What's not in contention is the physical features of asteroids.

The Big Bang theory

In the beginning, 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was hot and dense, smaller than the nucleus of an atom in size. It exploded, and within seconds, the mass expanded rapidly and inflated to about the size of planet Earth. The mass consisted of mostly radiant energy and exotic particles like quarks and anti-quarks.

Galaxies differentiate out of the fog

Two billion years after the Big Bang, galaxies begin to form. Uneven areas of matter begin to clump up due to the action of gravity, and the universe becomes a sponge-like configuration. Galaxies and galaxy clusters are condensed into shells and strings around vast emptiness.

Our galaxy begins to develop around three billion years after the universe was formed. Stars form in globular clusters and scatter throughout the galaxy, which looks like a sphere of gas forming the galaxy's halo. A disk differentiates around a central bulge with spiral arms emanating out of it.

More galaxies form in elliptical, spiral or irregular shapes. Galaxies now exist close together, causing collisions and conjoining.

The birth of the asteroid belt

It may be that some bits were left over from the gravitational collapse of the primordial solar nebula, the giant cloud of gas and dust cloud that formed our solar system, and this created the asteroids orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

Alternatively, the remote viewing project called the Farsight Institute's Mystery Project suggests that an exploded planet may be the source of the asteroids stuck in orbit. The comets' elliptical orbits could potentially substantiate the exploded planet theory. The Farsight Institute states that much of the current research data supports the exploding plant theory rather than the solar nebula theory.

Asteroid characteristics

Asteroids are reflective, unlike planets or moons, and they shine like stars. This is helpful in observing asteroids for study and deducing their various characteristics. Asteroids are basically chunks of rock that can range from a few feet in diameter, also called meteoroids, to miles across, according to National Geographic Science and Space.

There are three main asteroid categories:

  • Carbonaceous or C-type: Carbonaceous asteroids are similar in composition to the sun without the combustibility. These are dark light-absorbing asteroids that live in the outer edges of the main asteroid belt. About 3/4 of all asteroids are this type.
  • Silicaceous or S-type: Less than 1/5 of asteroids are S-type. They are made of metallic iron and magnesium silicates. These asteroids are mainly found in the inside edge of the main asteroid belt.
  • Metallic or M-type: These types of asteroids comprise less than ten percent of the main asteroid belt. They are composed of chunks of metallic iron, and they circulate within the center of the main asteroid belt.

Asteroids orbit in an elliptical pattern around the sun. They move in the same direction as Earth but rotate in time spans that range from about an hour to a day, depending on their size. Many asteroids are loosely held together and some are not much denser than water. Some asteroids are huge but the majority of asteroids in the asteroid belt are as small as a pebble. If all the asteroids in the belt were compressed together, they would be about half the size of the moon.

© 2014 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company