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Questions tagged [asteroids]

This is a tag for asteroids, not dwarf planets or any other astronomical object.

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30
votes
9answers
18k views

What is the speed of the fastest moving body in our solar system?

On Wikipedia I saw that the average orbital speed of planet Earth around the Sun is a whopping $29 783\text{ m/s}$, and it made me wonder are there bodies (planets, meteorites, asteroids) that move ...
30
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4answers
3k views

Why are there no asteroids or meteoroids with relativistic speeds?

Cosmic rays can have energies going into the $10^{20}$ eV domain. Asteroids and meteoroids originating in the solar system are probably limited in their speed because they all started out from the ...
27
votes
7answers
29k views

What is the average distance between objects in our asteroid belt?

We've all seen sci-fi movies with asteroid belts that require "great skill" to fly through, but how dense is the asteroid belt really? How much of the belt could you see from the surface of a given ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Why would the lack of air in a mine in an asteroid prevent you from flooding it?

In Isaac Asimov's I, Robot novel, two scientists stationed in an asteroid where mining activities are performed say "We could flood the mines, if this weren't an airless asteroid" when considering ...
18
votes
5answers
70k views

How do the terms comet, asteroid, meteoroid, meteor and meteorite differ?

These terms are frequently used interchangeably by the uninitiated to mean approximately a “space rock”. In practical terms, how do their meanings differ?
14
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3answers
4k views

Could an asteroid land slowly on Earth's surface?

The concept in my mind is that an asteroid is on a vector similar to Earth's, but slightly slower (e.g., 50kmh slower). As Earth passes it, it enters the atmosphere at a sharp angle, and since Earth ...
14
votes
2answers
11k views

How does the central peak in moon craters form?

The central peak in many of the moon's large craters are visible with a telescope and they seem a little odd to me. Can someone explain how they form.
13
votes
7answers
7k views

What is the current status of Pluto?

Pluto has been designated a planet in our solar system for years (ever since it was discovered in the last century), but in 2006 it was demoted. What caused this decision? And is there a chance that ...
10
votes
3answers
10k views

Why did the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter form as it did?

I'm curious about why the asteroid belt wasn't pulled by Mars's or Jupiter's gravity or formed into either moons or planets. Why did it form into an asteroid belt instead?
9
votes
5answers
493 views

What are the chances that a deadly asteroid will hit Earth in the next decade?

What are the chances that an asteroid that will kill multiple people will hit Earth in the next decade?
8
votes
1answer
152 views

Are there any models for distribution of asteroid sizes in a belt?

Question: Is there any function that can describe the distribution* of asteroid diameters expected within an*' asteroid belt? *: distribution as frequency of occurrence within the asteroid belt or ...
7
votes
4answers
9k views

Minimum size of an asteroid to actually impact earth

From what I understand, an object entering the atmosphere will start to burn up from the tremendous resistance of the atmosphere. Presumably, for asteroids under a certain size, they will burn up ...
7
votes
1answer
165 views

Is the Apophis asteroid a concern?

I was watching the TED lecture How to defend Earth from asteroids , and the speaker Phil Plait spoke of the possibility of this asteroid hitting Earth. He also said something about a Mayan legend. He ...
7
votes
1answer
72 views

Are there Trojan family or Hilda family satellites locked in Earth's orbit?

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar satellites? If so, how many?
6
votes
3answers
884 views

What is the scientific basis for comets vs. main-belt comets being composed of different materials?

Do we observe different events or activities on main-belt comets, or do they behave exactly the same as regular comets? (Apart from the obvious difference in orbit size/shape.) The Wikipedia article ...
6
votes
2answers
276 views

Asteroid orientation possible?

I’m writing a SF story with a question about an element of my plot. I have a Manhattan-sized NiFe asteroid, with little or no spin, in orbit at 2.5 astronomical units from the Sun. Would it be ...
6
votes
1answer
153 views

What conditions should an asteroid or comet impact need to meet in order to start an impact winter?

Is there a way to calculate if an impact from a given asteroid (say 5 miles in diameter, solid rock to which we know the mass) would start an impact winter? If yes, I would like to see a real example ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Can an asteroid have a magnetic field?

Some M-type asteroids are believed to be metallic, even possessing Nickel-Iron. Given the proximity of the asteroid belt to Jupiter's magnetosphere, the regularity of motion of any given M ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Do asteroids create sonic boom while entering the atmosphere?

Because of the lack of any materials to propagate sound, it can't spread in space. There's the air in the atmosphere, but its volume mass increases constantly (either linear or exponential, I don't ...
5
votes
2answers
477 views

Can a minimum ultimate tensile strength (UTS) for an asteroid be established based on its diameter and rotation?

I found it fascinating that many asteroids rotate with a period of just seconds. For this fast of a rotation on this size of object, I thought that would actually cause significant acceleration on the ...
4
votes
2answers
61 views

How bright will an asteroid be?

In the news, it has been stated that there will be a fairly large asteroid passing fairly close to Earth soon. I've been trying to find a good observation guide, including determining how bright it ...
4
votes
2answers
427 views

How are gravity tractors possible?

I've heard about how NASA is planning to redirect asteroids by having a satellite tug on it gravitationally using a large enough bolder, but how is that possible? I thought that changing the ...
4
votes
2answers
626 views

Would a considerably big asteroid be disintegrated by the Earth's Roche limit?

If there was a big asteroid with a diameter of say 50km+ in a collision course with the Earth (not orbiting), would it disintegrate into smaller chunks due to the Earth's Roche limit, or the time it ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me.
4
votes
1answer
76 views

Protoplanet formation & Kessler Syndrome

In the early stages of the solarsystem rocks clumped together randomly until their gravity drew in more material which led to protoplanet formation. But how does the dust and do the rocks form bigger ...
4
votes
1answer
782 views

Solar System Snow Line: 5AU or 2.7AU?

I am trying to update the Wikipedia article "Frost Line (astrophysics)". During my last update (by QuantumShadow), I noticed that different sources cite different values for Solar System water ice ...
4
votes
1answer
176 views

NASA's asteroid mission and angular momentum

From NASA Asteroid Mission NASA is developing the first ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, and send astronauts to return samples of it to ...
3
votes
3answers
12k views

What if an asteroid the size of the moon hits earth?

Would we all perish due to excessive heat? Or would that be limited to the area near the impact while the people on the rest of the earth would die from other phenomena such as mega earthquakes, ...
3
votes
1answer
90 views

How can an asteroid fall to a planet?

According to the Kepler's first law, the orbit of an asteroid would be an ellipse having the planet at one of the focuses (to a good approximation). Then how come can it ever fall to the planet?
3
votes
3answers
541 views

Armageddon prevention

I was watching the movie Armageddon and it made me think of a few things. We would probably not need to send a crew to blow the asteroid in two, I think we could still send a warhead with enough power ...
3
votes
2answers
100 views

Can Vesta dominate the orbits of other asteroids?

I think I remember a talk where a professor said that Vesta is a particularly important asteroid because its gravity is strong enough to perturb other asteroids. In spite of Vesta's size, this effect ...
3
votes
1answer
127 views

Why was the asteroid 101955 Bennu chosen by the NASA OSIRIS-REx sample return mission?

Please explain it in simple terms. Why was THIS asteroid chosen among all the thousand of asteroids?
2
votes
1answer
111 views

Why is ʻOumuamua traveling so slowly?

Imagine a space rock that starts at rest at the Lagrange point between the sun and our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri. That would put it at about 2 light years away from the sun. Now, it ...
2
votes
3answers
149 views

The orbit of 2010 TK7

Having just heard about the asteroid 2010 TK7 in Trojan asteroid seen in Earth's orbit by Wise telescope, I want to know more about its orbit. The BBC article says it moves above and below the ...
2
votes
3answers
307 views

How early might a moon-sized asteroid be detected?

If an enormous asteroid, approximately the size of our moon (~2000-mile diameter), was passing close to Earth, how early might we detect something that large? Or alternatively, how close could ...
2
votes
1answer
633 views

What is the fate of the asteroid belt?

From what I understand the asteroid belt never formed into a planet because Jupiter threw off the gravity of all the small objects and they never could gather to form a planet. As described here: Why ...
2
votes
1answer
426 views

Would rotating a large asteroid be a structurally viable way generate 0.3 Earth gravity?

This question is based off something I have seen in science fiction. The TV series The Expanse is known for having realistic physics when it comes to artificial gravity (i.e. no Star Trek gravity ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Asteroid as a “free slingshot?”

The question Halley's Comet as a "Free Taxi" had an interesting thought, even though it didn't work out. I was wondering about a variation on the idea. Use a cable, as illustrated below. Could this be ...
2
votes
2answers
50 views

Is it possible to use sound waves to move asteroids?

Does it seem feasible to use sound waves to deflect an inbound asteroid? Would it matter what frequency the sound waves are? Would it matter what the size or mass of the asteroid is?
2
votes
1answer
28 views

Can the collision of asteroids form another moon?

In the lifetime of the earth, is it possible for sufficient collisions to occur in the asteroid belt to form a prototype moon?
2
votes
1answer
279 views

What are the odds of 2012 DA14 hitting a satellite or the moon?

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass by close to Earth. Very close. So close, in fact, that it's inside the orbit of the moon and even inside the orbit of geostationary satellites, as shown by this ...
2
votes
2answers
546 views

Interstellar bodies

As a solar system evolves the planets interact, and in trying to achieve a harmonious state some bodies are ejected. Space is big, but I have heard that some meteorites have been found with anomalous ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

What effect would this most recent asteroid fly-by have had if it impacted?

According to this article, an asteroid came dangerously close to the Earth. The asteroid was roughly the size of a football field. What would the result of this asteroid be if it had impacted square ...
2
votes
0answers
21 views

Does an asteroid have a Roche Limit?

Let us imagine two meteors, orbiting the other very close. Can one/both rip themselves apart - even when they have much less mass than, say, planets?
2
votes
0answers
55 views

How to estimate the mass of an incoming asteroid?

A second galactic visitor has just been observed: see this link. For a mass which is small enough to have no noticable effect on other masses, is there any other way to infer the mass? Its own motion ...
2
votes
0answers
79 views

Would impact angle matter on relativistic impactor?

I'm trying to calculate (for fun) a comparison between a kinetic impactor and an H-bomb. I would assume this to be a fairly straight forward problem involving kinetic energy and a table of various H-...
2
votes
0answers
258 views

Calculating distance to an asteroid on a given day

I'd like to calculate the distance between the Earth and an asteroid at a given date. Is this possible using the data from JPL's small-body database? Is there a better way?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Why is meteor speed what it appears to be?

Is the speed of a meteor through our sky because of the speed of the earth's axis rotation, or because the meteor is speeding towards us at that speed?
1
vote
2answers
339 views

How much of an asteroid mass can be in platinum or rare metals?

There are many articles about the 2011 UW-158 asteroid which will pass earth tonight. The interesting thing about this asteroid is that it is said to contain $5.4 trillion worth of platinum. Many ...
1
vote
3answers
175 views

Stresses in asteroid during close flyby

The acceleration of an asteroid (such as 2012DA14) as it approaches earth is proportional to the reciprocal of distance $r$ from earth center, squared. the derivative of the acceleration, or jerk, is ...