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by Abrannman
Last updated 5 years ago


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Facts about asteroids

Asteroids are minor planets, especially those of the inner Solar System. The larger ones have also been called planetoids. These terms have historically been applied to any astronomical object orbiting the Sun that did not show the disk of a planet and was not observed to have the characteristics of an active comet, but as minor planets in the outer Solar System were discovered, their volatile-based surfaces were found to resemble comets more closely and so were often distinguished from traditional asteroids.

Methods of discovery

Until 1998, asteroids were discovered by a four-step process. First, a region of the sky was photographed by a wide-field telescope, or astrograph. Pairs of photographs were taken, typically one hour apart. Multiple pairs could be taken over a series of days. Second, the two films or plates of the same region were viewed under a stereoscope. Any body in orbit around the Sun would move slightly between the pair of films. Under the stereoscope, the image of the body would seem to float slightly above the background of stars.


Composition is calculated from three primary sources: albedo, surface spectrum, and density. The last can only be determined accurately by observing the orbits of moons the asteroid might have. So far, every asteroid with moons has turned out to be a rubble pile, a loose conglomeration of rock and metal that may be half empty space by volume.


Size distribution

Asteroid Orbits

Composition of Asteroid



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