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Name: Chris
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Question:
Where do asteroids come from?



Replies:
I have looked in several astronomy texts, and they pretty much agree that the asteroids are material that never quite got together to form a planet. Many astronomers believe that the early solar system was a swirling cloud of dust and gas. Sometimes particles of dust would collide and stick together; eventually, through many such chance collisions, some of these clumps would be big enough to gravitationally attract other nearby bits of dust, getting bigger yet. These clumps are called planetesimals, and the process I have described is called accretion. You can imagine that eventually some of the planetesimals would get big enough to absorb most of the other stuff in their orbit, finally leaving perhaps only one (maybe some smaller ones survive as moons). But in the case of the asteroids, Jupiter's gravity prevented this accumulation from going to completion, leaving several small bodies instead of one big one. That is the theory.

RC Winther


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