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Asteroids(minor planets)

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Post  pawansoni Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:16 am

Asteroids, sometimes called minor planets or planetoids, are bodies—primarily of the inner Solar System—that are smaller than planets but larger than meteoroids, with the exception of comets. The distinction between asteroids and comets is made on visual appearance when discovered: Comets show a perceptible coma (a fuzzy "atmosphere"), while asteroids do not.

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Post  miththu Thu May 13, 2010 3:54 am

Asteroids are also called minor planets. They orbit the Sun, just as planets do, but they are considerably smaller. The largest asteroid, Ceres, is only about 900 kilometers (550 miles) in diameter. The smallest asteroids are too small to detect from Earth. Asteroids are irregular in shape rather than spherical, like planets, because they are too small to have ever been liquid.

Most asteroids are in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Many asteroids however cross inside the orbit of Mars. Some asteroids also cross inside Earth's orbit. If these asteroids come close to Earth, they are called near Earth asteroids. These asteroids are the ones that could collide with Earth. Such collisions could be devastating but they fortunately are very rare.

The Trojan asteroids orbit the Sun in Jupiter's orbit. There are two groups of Trojan asteroids. One group orbits the Sun 60 degrees ahead of Jupiter. The other group is 60 degrees behind Jupiter. These two points are stable Lagrangian points where the Sun's and Jupiter's gravitational forces balance to produce a stable equilibrium point.

Asteroids are debris left over from the formation of the solar system that never collected to form a planet. It is likely that Jupiter's gravitational influence prevented these small chunks of rock and metal from collecting into a planet.
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Post  pavithra194 Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:25 am

Several hundred thousand asteroids have been discovered and given provisional designations so far. Thousands more are discovered each year. There are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands more that are too small to be seen from the Earth. There are 26 known asteroids larger than 200 km in diameter. Our census of the largest ones is now fairly complete: we probably know 99% of the asteroids larger than 100 km in diameter. Of those in the 10 to 100 km range we have cataloged about half. But we know very few of the smaller ones; there are probably considerably more than a million asteroids in the 1 km range.
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Post  dewde Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:29 am

The first named minor planet, Ceres, was discovered in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, and was originally considered a new planet. This was followed by the discovery of other similar bodies, which with the equipment of the time appeared to be points of light, like stars, showing little or no planetary disc (though readily distinguishable from stars due to their apparent motions).
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