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Asteroid Belt q's.

  1. Jun 16, 2005 #1
    If you were to pass through our system's asteroid belt, what would you be able to see with the naked eye?
    We've all seen the Star Wars version, but that impresses me as more than a bit of dramatic hooey intended to provide excitement.
    In the real world, if you were to pass through our system's asteroid belt, what would you see with the naked eye? Pretty much nuthin?
    You wouldn't see planets would you, or Earth's moon, (as other than tiny specks of light) let alone any asteroids (barring statistically unlikely close passes)?



    Why IS there an "asteroid belt" in our system?
    Why isn't all that mass just another planet? What's kept that mass from congealing into another planet over the time it took Earth and the other planets to form?
    Was the asteroid belt at one time a planet? One that was somehow smashed in some cataclysmic collision?
    Is the asteroid belt just a planet that's taking a heck of a lot longer to form? I.e. will the asteroid belt form a planet at sometime in the distant future?
     
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  3. Jun 16, 2005 #2

    DaveC426913

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    If you were to pass through our system's asteroid belt, what would you be able to see with the naked eye?
    We've all seen the Star Wars version, but that impresses me as more than a bit of dramatic hooey intended to provide excitement.
    In the real world, if you were to pass through our system's asteroid belt, what would you see with the naked eye? Pretty much nuthin?
    You wouldn't see planets would you, or Earth's moon, (as other than tiny specks of light) let alone any asteroids (barring statistically unlikely close passes)?
    You are correct.



    Why IS there an "asteroid belt" in our system?
    The solar system was originally a coalescing disk of dust and debris.

    Why isn't all that mass just another planet? What's kept that mass from congealing into another planet over the time it took Earth and the other planets to form?
    1] There is not enough. Calculations of the mass of the enitre belt make for a very small Moon.
    2] Theory purports that Jupiter's huge tides stopped it from forming.


    Was the asteroid belt at one time a planet? One that was somehow smashed in some cataclysmic collision?
    Nope.

    Is the asteroid belt just a planet that's taking a heck of a lot longer to form? I.e. will the asteroid belt form a planet at sometime in the distant future?
    Nope. See above.
     
  4. Jun 16, 2005 #3

    Phobos

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    Just to add to DaveC426913's responses...

    Correct. It would look a lot like a starry sky from here on Earth (from a non-light polluted area).

    When NASA sends space probes out beyond the asteroid belt, they barely have to pay attention (if at all) to navigate around the asteriods. It's mostly empty space.

    Leftover building blocks from the formation of the planets sitting in a stable orbit between Mars & Jupiter. As mentioned, Jupiter's gravitational effects seem to have prevented that material from further combining (a planet/moon that never was).
     
  5. Jun 24, 2005 #4

    Nereid

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    To add a further refinement to the posts above ... some of the asteroids seem to have once been part of a larger body? How do we know? Because the material they are made of seems to be 'differentiated'. This means (roughly) there are chunks of iron (alloys), there are chunks of rock, and there are chunks of gunk and goop. We cannot figure out how there could be chunks of iron unless there was a body big enough to be molten, so the iron could all sink to the core. We reckon this means bodies bigger than the biggest asteroid we can see today. We know that there was a lot of colliding and smashing up going on ~4 billion years ago, so we reckon that there may have been one or more bigger objects that got shattered through collisions, leaving some chunks of iron (etc). :surprised
     
  6. Jun 27, 2005 #5
    ive heard that in the beginning of the solar system, the asteroid belt was actually much more massive (enough for a planet if Jupiter didnt exist) and that it has steadily been losing mass over these few billion years
     
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