Is the asteroid belt what remains of an obliterated planet?


“In this context, we sometimes call the asteroid belt the blood spatter of the solar system.”

Come or go?

The story of the unknown origin of the asteroid belt, a gigantic minefield of space rocks orbiting the Sun beyond Mars, has long fascinated and intrigued scientists.

Two leading theories – that asteroids are either the remnants of a planet that has been destroyed, or the raw materials of a new world that has yet to be formed – seem increasingly unlikely, Astronomy Review reports. Not because they’re weird, but simply because there isn’t enough stuff to create a whole new planet. And more importantly, the cosmos is too complex for such a simple explanation.

“It used to be a simple story, but in recent years it has become more and more complicated as we learn more about the formation of planets,” said the director of space studies at the Southwest Research Institute. Astronomy.

To assemble

The “annihilated planet” hypothesis was ruled out when scientists analyzed various space rocks that made their way to Earth and realized that several came from different sources, Astronomy notes, rather than a large planet. And there is no way they will come together to form a new one. Although asteroids are extremely numerous, they are also tiny – too many to be a planet.

“It’s like tiny crumbs,” said Sean Raymond, astronomer at the Bordeaux Astrophysics Laboratory. Astronomy.

However, it is possible that the asteroid belt was made up, at least in part, of the remains of various nascent planets that did not finish forming before being crushed to pieces.

“Splatter of blood”

The full answer, most likely, is that the asteroid belt originated from various places. There are the demolished planetesimals, the cosmic wrecks of the formation of Jupiter and Saturn, and even the shards of asteroids that crashed into Earth that flew away.

“In this context,” said Raymond Astronomy, “we sometimes call the asteroid belt the blood spatter of the solar system.”

READ MORE: The asteroid belt: wreckage of a destroyed planet or something else? [Astronomy Magazine]

Learn more about the asteroid belt: In its dying breath our sun will erase the asteroid belt

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