Micro Life Zone
Asked by emitc75 to Aimee, Bridget, Kieran, Mat on 24 Jun 2011.
Keywords: asteroid, belt, formation
It’s a planet that didn’t work out. Most planets formed and stuck together because they got enough stuff together that gravity started pulling everything very tightly into the same place. Planets are spheres because of that. Gravity’s strong.
But if the rocks never got together in a large enough mass, they wouldn’t collapse to give a planet. It’s thought that’s what happened with the assie belt.
It’s not totally clear why. Maybe a planet was trying to form and something hit it? Maybe it was just random chance it didn’t make it? Maybe Jupiter’s gravity messed up the formation of the new planet.
Spaceships are going to check out some of the big asteroids. Maybe that will tell us something.
All together the asteroids don’t have a huge mass (only 4% of our moon) and have slightly different chemical compositions. This suggests that they were not made from a planet that got smashed apart, but that they were bits of space dust that never made it into a planet.
It’s likely that Jupiter’s gravity prevented them from forming into a planet, so these bits of dust clumped up to form large rocky asteroids, but never made anything bigger.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2023