Orbital Resonance and the Asteroid Belt

Why is it that all of the matter in the inner solar system accreted to form planets, while in between Mars and Jupiter there is still a bunch of stuff floating around?

Conservation of energy is kind of tricky.  As shepherd objects pass by the asteroid belt, they either give or take away orbital energy from the asteroids, pushing them into larger or smaller orbits.  This is the reason for why these asteroids can collide with terrestrial planets.  This resonance also has another effect of destabilizing these orbits so that the would-be accreting material never actually accretes.  Each collision serves only to break up large asteroids into smaller ones.

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One response to “Orbital Resonance and the Asteroid Belt

  1. I think that we are going to learn a lot about our own asteroid belt as we study asteroid belts around other stars. If a planetary system has only small terrestrial planets, will there still be an asteroid belt? Or what about a system with only giant planets? Or will we find a star surrounded by one, extremely large asteroid field? I think that studying other planetary systems with different characteristics will only help us to better understand our own.

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