The wreckage of some ancient planets formed the asteroid belt



It’s exciting to watch the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 come closer to the chosen asteroid and start observing it up close, but there are still things we can learn about them from here. A new study has determined that 85% of our solar system’s asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is made up of the remains of five or six ancient little planets.

The study appeared today in the journal Nature astronomy, and according to its lead author, University of Florida theoretical astronomer Stanley Dermott, the remaining 15 percent could come from the same handful of very old planets. The origin of the asteroid belt might tell us more about Earth, but more urgently, these pieces of rock and minerals sometimes peel off and rush towards our own planet.

“These large bodies are passing by Earth, so of course we are very concerned about their numbers and the types of material they contain,” Dermott said in a press release. “If ever one of them comes to earth, and we want to deflect it, we have to know what its nature is.”

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