Orders of magnitude (length)
The following are examples of orders of magnitude for different lengths. To help compare different orders of magnitude, the following list describes various lengths between 1.6 × 10 − 35 metres and 10 10 10 122 metres. To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths shorter than 10−23 m. 1.6 × 10−11 yoctometres – the Planck length. 1 ym – 1 yoctometre, the smallest named subdivision of the metre in the SI base unit of length, one septillionth of a metre 1 ym – length of a neutrino. 2 ym – the effective cross-section radius of 1 MeV neutrinos as measured by Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−23 metres and 10−22 metres. To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−22 m and 10−21 m. 100 ym – length of a top quark, one of the smallest known quarks To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−21 m and 10−20 m. 2 zm – length of a preon, hypothetical particles proposed as subcomponents of quarks and leptons.
2 zm – radius of effective cross section for a 20 GeV neutrino scattering off a nucleon 7 zm – radius of effective cross section for a 250 GeV neutrino scattering off a nucleon To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−20 m and 10−19 m. 15 zm – length of a high energy neutrino 30 zm – length of a bottom quark To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−19 m and 10−18 m. 177 zm – de Broglie wavelength of protons at the Large Hadron Collider To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−18 m and 10−17 m. 1 am – sensitivity of the LIGO detector for gravitational waves 1 am – upper limit for the size of quarks and electrons 1 am – upper bound of the typical size range for "fundamental strings" 1 am – length of an electron 1 am – length of an up quark 1 am – length of a down quark To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−17 m and 10−16 m. 10 am – range of the weak force To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−16 m and 10−15 m. 100 am – all lengths shorter than this distance are not confirmed in terms of size 850 am – approximate proton radius The femtometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to 10−15 metres.
In particle physics, this unit is more called a fermi with abbreviation "fm". To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−15 metres and 10−14 metres. 1 fm – length of a neutron 1.5 fm – diameter of the scattering cross section of an 11 MeV proton with a target proton 1.75 fm – the effective charge diameter of a proton 2.81794 fm – classical electron radius 7 fm – the radius of the effective scattering cross section for a gold nucleus scattering a 6 MeV alpha particle over 140 degrees To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−14 m and 10−13 m. 1.75 to 15 fm – Diameter range of the atomic nucleus To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−13 m and 10−12 m. 570 fm – typical distance from the atomic nucleus of the two innermost electrons in the uranium atom, the heaviest naturally-occurring atom To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−12 and 10−11 m. 1 pm – distance between atomic nuclei in a white dwarf 2.4 pm – The Compton wavelength of the electron 5 pm – shorter X-ray wavelengths To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−11 and 10−10 m. 25 pm – approximate radius of a helium atom, the smallest neutral atom 50 pm – radius of a hydrogen atom 50 pm – bohr radius: approximate radius of a hydrogen atom ~50 pm – best resolution of a high-resolution transmission electron microscope 60 pm – radius of a carbon atom 93 pm – length of a diatomic carbon molecule To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−10 and 10−9 m. 100 pm – 1 ångström 100 pm – covalent radius of sulfur atom 120 pm – van der Waals radius of a neutral hydrogen atom 120 pm – radius of a gold atom 126 pm – covalent radius of ruthenium atom 135 pm – covalent radius of technetium atom 150 pm – Length of a typical covalent bond 153 pm – covalent radius of silver atom 155 pm – covalent radius of zirconium atom 175 pm – covalent radius of thulium atom 200 pm – highest resolution of a typical electron microscope 225 pm – covalent radius of caesium atom 280 pm – Average size of the water molecule 298 pm – radius of a caesium atom, calculated to be the largest atomic radius 340 pm – thickness of single layer graphene 356.68 pm – width of diamond unit cell 403 pm – width of lithium fluoride unit cell 500 pm – Width of protein α helix 543 pm – silicon lattice spacing 560 pm – width of sodium chloride unit cell 700 pm – width of glucose molecule 780 pm – mean width of quartz unit cell 820 pm – mean width of ice unit cell 900 pm – mean width of coesite unit cell To help compare different orders
The scattered disc is a distant circumstellar disc in the Solar System, sparsely populated by icy small solar system bodies, which are a subset of the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects. The scattered-disc objects have orbital eccentricities ranging as high as 0.8, inclinations as high as 40°, perihelia greater than 30 astronomical units. These extreme orbits are thought to be the result of gravitational "scattering" by the gas giants, the objects continue to be subject to perturbation by the planet Neptune. Although the closest scattered-disc objects approach the Sun at about 30–35 AU, their orbits can extend well beyond 100 AU; this makes scattered objects among most distant objects in the Solar System. The innermost portion of the scattered disc overlaps with a torus-shaped region of orbiting objects traditionally called the Kuiper belt, but its outer limits reach much farther away from the Sun and farther above and below the ecliptic than the Kuiper belt proper; because of its unstable nature, astronomers now consider the scattered disc to be the place of origin for most periodic comets in the Solar System, with the centaurs, a population of icy bodies between Jupiter and Neptune, being the intermediate stage in an object's migration from the disc to the inner Solar System.
Perturbations from the giant planets send such objects towards the Sun, transforming them into periodic comets. Many objects of the proposed Oort cloud are thought to have originated in the scattered disc. Detached objects are not distinct from scattered disc objects, some such as Sedna have sometimes been considered to be included in this group. Traditionally, devices like a blink comparator were used in astronomy to detect objects in the Solar System, because these objects would move between two exposures—this involved time-consuming steps like exposing and developing photographic plates or films, people using a blink comparator to manually detect prospective objects. During the 1980s, the use of CCD-based cameras in telescopes made it possible to directly produce electronic images that could be digitized and transferred to digital images; because the CCD captured more light than film and the blinking could now be done at an adjustable computer screen, the surveys allowed for higher throughput.
A flood of new discoveries was the result: over a thousand trans-Neptunian objects were detected between 1992 and 2006. The first scattered-disc object to be recognised as such was 1996 TL66 identified in 1996 by astronomers based at Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Three more were identified by the same survey in 1999: 1999 CV118, 1999 CY118, 1999 CF119; the first object presently classified as an SDO to be discovered was 1995 TL8, found in 1995 by Spacewatch. As of 2011, over 200 SDOs have been identified, including Gǃkúnǁʼhòmdímà, 2002 TC302, Sedna and 2004 VN112. Although the numbers of objects in the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc are hypothesized to be equal, observational bias due to their greater distance means that far fewer SDOs have been observed to date. Known trans-Neptunian objects are divided into two subpopulations: the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc. A third reservoir of trans-Neptunian objects, the Oort cloud, has been hypothesized, although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made.
Some researchers further suggest a transitional space between the scattered disc and the inner Oort cloud, populated with "detached objects". The Kuiper belt is a thick torus of space, extending from about 30 to 50 AU comprising two main populations of Kuiper belt objects: the classical Kuiper-belt objects, which lie in orbits untouched by Neptune, the resonant Kuiper-belt objects; these ratios, called orbital resonances, allow KBOs to persist in regions which Neptune's gravitational influence would otherwise have cleared out over the age of the Solar System, since the objects are never close enough to Neptune to be scattered by its gravity. Those in 2:3 resonances are known as "plutinos", because Pluto is the largest member of their group, whereas those in 1:2 resonances are known as "twotinos". In contrast to the Kuiper belt, the scattered-disc population can be disturbed by Neptune. Scattered-disc objects come within gravitational range of Neptune at their closest approaches but their farthest distances reach many times that.
Ongoing research suggests that the centaurs, a class of icy planetoids that orbit between Jupiter and Neptune, may be SDOs thrown into the inner reaches of the Solar System by Neptune, making them "cis-Neptunian" rather than trans-Neptunian scattered objects. Some objects, like 1999 TD10, blur the distinction and the Minor Planet Center, which catalogues all trans-Neptunian objects, now lists centaurs and SDOs together; the MPC, makes a clear distinction between the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, separating those objects in stable orbits from those in scattered orbits. However, the difference between the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc is not clear-cut, many astronomers see the scattered disc not as a separate population but as an outward region of the Kuiper belt. Another term used is "scattered Kuiper-belt object" for bodies of the scattered d
An hour is a unit of time conventionally reckoned as 1⁄24 of a day and scientifically reckoned as 3,599–3,601 seconds, depending on conditions. The hour was established in the ancient Near East as a variable measure of 1⁄12 of the night or daytime; such seasonal, temporal, or unequal hours varied by latitude. The hour was subsequently divided into each of 60 seconds. Equal or equinoctial hours were taken as 1⁄24 of the day. Since this unit was not constant due to long term variations in the Earth's rotation, the hour was separated from the Earth's rotation and defined in terms of the atomic or physical second. In the modern metric system, hours are an accepted unit of time defined as 3,600 atomic seconds. However, on rare occasions an hour may incorporate a positive or negative leap second, making it last 3,599 or 3,601 seconds, in order to keep it within 0.9 seconds of UT1, based on measurements of the mean solar day. The modern English word hour is a development of the Anglo-Norman houre and Middle English ure, first attested in the 13th century.
It displaced the Old English "tide" and "stound". The Anglo-Norman term was a borrowing of Old French ure, a variant of ore, which derived from Latin hōra and Greek hṓrā. Like Old English tīd and stund, hṓrā was a vaguer word for any span of time, including seasons and years, its Proto-Indo-European root has been reconstructed as *yeh₁-, making hour distantly cognate with year. The time of day is expressed in English in terms of hours. Whole hours on a 12-hour clock are expressed using the contracted phrase o'clock, from the older of clock. Hours on a 24-hour clock are expressed as "hundred" or "hundred hours". Fifteen and thirty minutes past the hour is expressed as "a quarter past" or "after" and "half past" from their fraction of the hour. Fifteen minutes before the hour may be expressed as "a quarter to", "of", "till", or "before" the hour; the ancient Egyptians began dividing the night into wnwt at some time before the compilation of the Dynasty V Pyramid Texts in the 24th century BC. By 2150 BC, diagrams of stars inside Egyptian coffin lids—variously known as "diagonal calendars" or "star clocks"—attest that there were 12 of these.
Clagett writes that it is "certain" this duodecimal division of the night followed the adoption of the Egyptian civil calendar placed c. 2800 BC on the basis of analyses of the Sothic cycle, but a lunar calendar long predated this and would have had twelve months in each of its years. The coffin diagrams show that the Egyptians took note of the heliacal risings of 36 stars or constellations, one for each of the ten-day "weeks" of their civil calendar; each night, the rising of eleven of these decans were noted, separating the night into twelve divisions whose middle terms would have lasted about 40 minutes each. The original decans used by the Egyptians would have fallen noticeably out of their proper places over a span of several centuries. By the time of Amenhotep III, the priests at Karnak were using water clocks to determine the hours; these were filled to the brim at sunset and the hour determined by comparing the water level against one of its twelve gauges, one for each month of the year.
During the New Kingdom, another system of decans was used, made up of 24 stars over the course of the year and 12 within any one night. The division of the day into 12 hours was accomplished by sundials marked with ten equal divisions; the morning and evening periods when the sundials failed to note time were observed as the first and last hours. The Egyptian hours were connected both with the priesthood of the gods and with their divine services. By the New Kingdom, each hour was conceived as a specific region of the sky or underworld through which Ra's solar barge travelled. Protective deities were used as the names of the hours; as the protectors and resurrectors of the sun, the goddesses of the night hours were considered to hold power over all lifespans and thus became part of Egyptian funerary rituals. Two fire-spitting cobras were said to guard the gates of each hour of the underworld, Wadjet and the rearing cobra were sometimes referenced as wnwt from their role protecting the dead through these gates.
The Egyptian for astronomer, used as a synonym for priest, was wnwty, "One of the Hours" or "Hour-Watcher". The earliest forms of wnwt include one or three stars, with the solar hours including the determinative hieroglyph for "sun". Ancient China divided its day into 100 "marks" running from midnight to midnight; the system is said to have been used since remote antiquity, credited to the legendary Yellow Emperor, but is first attested in Han-era water clocks and in the 2nd-century history of that dynasty. It was measured with sundials and water clocks. Into the Eastern Han, the Chinese measured their day schematically, adding the 20-ke difference between the solstices evenly throughout the year, one every nine days. During the night, time was more commonly
The Oort cloud, named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, sometimes called the Öpik–Oort cloud, is a hypothetical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun at distances ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 AU. It is divided into two regions: a spherical outer Oort cloud. Both regions lie in interstellar space; the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud. The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the extent of the Sun's Hill sphere; the outer Oort cloud is only loosely bound to the Solar System, thus is affected by the gravitational pull both of passing stars and of the Milky Way itself. These forces dislodge comets from their orbits within the cloud and send them toward the inner Solar System. Based on their orbits, most of the short-period comets may come from the scattered disc, but some may still have originated from the Oort cloud.
Astronomers conjecture that the matter composing the Oort cloud formed closer to the Sun and was scattered far into space by the gravitational effects of the giant planets early in the Solar System's evolution. Although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made, it may be the source of all long-period and Halley-type comets entering the inner Solar System, many of the centaurs and Jupiter-family comets as well; the existence of the Oort cloud was first postulated by Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik in 1932. Oort independently proposed it in 1950. There are two main classes of comet: long-period comets. Ecliptic comets have small orbits, below 10 AU, follow the ecliptic plane, the same plane in which the planets lie. All long-period comets have large orbits, on the order of thousands of AU, appear from every direction in the sky. A. O. Leuschner in 1907 suggested that many comets believed to have parabolic orbits, thus making single visits to the solar system had elliptical orbits and would return after long periods.
In 1932 Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik postulated that long-period comets originated in an orbiting cloud at the outermost edge of the Solar System. Dutch astronomer Jan Oort independently revived the idea in 1950 as a means to resolve a paradox: Over the course of the Solar System's existence the orbits of comets are unstable, dynamics dictate that a comet must either collide with the Sun or a planet or else be ejected from the Solar System by planetary perturbations. Moreover, their volatile composition means that as they approach the Sun, radiation boils the volatiles off until the comet splits or develops an insulating crust that prevents further outgassing. Thus, Oort reasoned, a comet could not have formed while in its current orbit and must have been held in an outer reservoir for all of its existence, he noted that there was a peak in numbers of long-period comets with aphelia of 20,000 AU, which suggested a reservoir at that distance with a spherical, isotropic distribution. Those rare comets with orbits of about 10,000 AU have gone through one or more orbits through the Solar System and have had their orbits drawn inward by the gravity of the planets.
The Oort cloud is thought to occupy a vast space from somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 AU to as far as 50,000 AU from the Sun. Some estimates place the outer edge at between 100,000 and 200,000 AU; the region can be subdivided into a spherical outer Oort cloud of 20,000–50,000 AU, a torus-shaped inner Oort cloud of 2,000–20,000 AU. The outer cloud is only weakly bound to the Sun and supplies the long-period comets to inside the orbit of Neptune; the inner Oort cloud is known as the Hills cloud, named after Jack G. Hills, who proposed its existence in 1981. Models predict that the inner cloud should have tens or hundreds of times as many cometary nuclei as the outer halo; the Hills cloud explains the continued existence of the Oort cloud after billions of years. The outer Oort cloud may have trillions of objects larger than 1 km, billions with absolute magnitudes brighter than 11, with neighboring objects tens of millions of kilometres apart, its total mass is not known, assuming that Halley's Comet is a suitable prototype for comets within the outer Oort cloud the combined mass is 3×1025 kilograms, or five times that of Earth.
Earlier it was thought to be more massive, but improved knowledge of the size distribution of long-period comets led to lower estimates. The mass of the inner Oort cloud has not been estimated. If analyses of comets are representative of the whole, the vast majority of Oort-cloud objects consist of ices such as water, ethane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. However, the discovery of the object 1996 PW, an object whose appearance was consistent with a D-type asteroid in an orbit typical of a long-period comet, prompted theoretical research that suggests that the Oort cloud population consists of one to two percent asteroids. Analysis of the carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in both the long-period and Jupiter-family comets shows little difference between the two, despite their vastly s
An asteroid family is a population of asteroids that share similar proper orbital elements, such as semimajor axis and orbital inclination. The members of the families are thought to be fragments of past asteroid collisions. An asteroid family is a more specific term than asteroid group whose members, while sharing some broad orbital characteristics, may be otherwise unrelated to each other. Large prominent families contain several hundred recognized asteroids. Small, compact families may have only about ten identified members. About 33% to 35% of asteroids in the main belt are family members. There are about 20 to 30 reliably recognized families, with several tens of less certain groupings. Most asteroid families are found in the main asteroid belt, although several family-like groups such as the Pallas family, Hungaria family, the Phocaea family lie at smaller semi-major axis or larger inclination than the main belt. One family has been identified associated with the dwarf planet Haumea; some studies have tried to find evidence of collisional families among the trojan asteroids, but at present the evidence is inconclusive.
The families are thought to form as a result of collisions between asteroids. In many or most cases the parent body was shattered, but there are several families which resulted from a large cratering event which did not disrupt the parent body; such cratering families consist of a single large body and a swarm of asteroids that are much smaller. Some families have complex internal structures which are not satisfactorily explained at the moment, but may be due to several collisions in the same region at different times. Due to the method of origin, all the members have matching compositions for most families. Notable exceptions are those families. Asteroid families are thought to have lifetimes of the order of a billion years, depending on various factors; this is shorter than the Solar System's age, so few if any are relics of the early Solar System. Decay of families occurs both because of slow dissipation of the orbits due to perturbations from Jupiter or other large bodies, because of collisions between asteroids which grind them down to small bodies.
Such small asteroids become subject to perturbations such as the Yarkovsky effect that can push them towards orbital resonances with Jupiter over time. Once there, they are rapidly ejected from the asteroid belt. Tentative age estimates have been obtained for some families, ranging from hundreds of millions of years to less than several million years as for the compact Karin family. Old families are thought to contain few small members, this is the basis of the age determinations, it is supposed that many old families have lost all the smaller and medium-sized members, leaving only a few of the largest intact. A suggested example of such old family remains are 113 Amalthea pair. Further evidence for a large number of past families comes from analysis of chemical ratios in iron meteorites; these show that there must have once been at least 50 to 100 parent bodies large enough to be differentiated, that have since been shattered to expose their cores and produce the actual meteorites. When the orbital elements of main belt asteroids are plotted, a number of distinct concentrations are seen against the rather uniform distribution of non-family background asteroids.
These concentrations are the asteroid families. Interlopers are asteroids classified as family members based on their so-called proper orbital elements but having spectroscopic properties distinct from the bulk of the family, suggesting that they, contrary to the true family members, did not originate from the same parent body that once fragmented upon a collisional impact. Speaking and their membership are identified by analysing the proper orbital elements rather than the current osculating orbital elements, which fluctuate on timescales of tens of thousands of years; the proper elements are related constants of motion that remain constant for times of at least tens of millions of years, longer. The Japanese astronomer Kiyotsugu Hirayama pioneered the estimation of proper elements for asteroids, first identified several of the most prominent families in 1918. In his honor, asteroid families are sometimes called Hirayama families; this applies to the five prominent groupings discovered by him.
Present day computer-assisted searches have identified more than a hundred asteroid families. The most prominent algorithms have been the hierarchical clustering method, which looks for groupings with small nearest-neighbour distances in orbital element space, wavelet analysis, which builds a density-of-asteroids map in orbital element space, looks for density peaks; the boundaries of the families are somewhat vague because at the edges they blend into the background density of asteroids in the main belt. For this reason the number of members among discovered asteroids is only known and membership is uncertain for asteroids near the edges. Additionally, some interlopers from the heterogeneous background asteroid population are expected in the central regions of a family. Since the true family members caused by the collision are expected to have similar compositions, most such interlopers can in principle be recognised by spectral properties which do not matc
A day is the period of time during which the Earth completes one rotation around its axis. A solar day is the length of time which elapses between the Sun reaching its highest point in the sky two consecutive times. In 1960, the second was redefined in terms of the orbital motion of the Earth in year 1900, was designated the SI base unit of time; the unit of measurement "day", was symbolized d. In 1967, the second and so the day were redefined by atomic electron transition. A civil day is 86,400 seconds, plus or minus a possible leap second in Coordinated Universal Time, plus or minus an hour in those locations that change from or to daylight saving time. Day can be defined as each of the twenty-four-hour periods, reckoned from one midnight to the next, into which a week, month, or year is divided, corresponding to a rotation of the earth on its axis; however its use depends on its context, for example when people say'day and night','day' will have a different meaning. It will mean the interval of light between two successive nights.
However, in order to be clear when using'day' in that sense, "daytime" should be used to distinguish it from "day" referring to a 24-hour period. The word day may refer to a day of the week or to a calendar date, as in answer to the question, "On which day?" The life patterns of humans and many other species are related to Earth's solar day and the day-night cycle. Several definitions of this universal human concept are used according to context and convenience. Besides the day of 24 hours, the word day is used for several different spans of time based on the rotation of the Earth around its axis. An important one is the solar day, defined as the time it takes for the Sun to return to its culmination point; because celestial orbits are not circular, thus objects travel at different speeds at various positions in their orbit, a solar day is not the same length of time throughout the orbital year. Because the Earth orbits the Sun elliptically as the Earth spins on an inclined axis, this period can be up to 7.9 seconds more than 24 hours.
In recent decades, the average length of a solar day on Earth has been about 86 400.002 seconds and there are about 365.2422 solar days in one mean tropical year. Ancient custom has a new day start at either the setting of the Sun on the local horizon; the exact moment of, the interval between, two sunrises or sunsets depends on the geographical position, the time of year. A more constant day can be defined by the Sun passing through the local meridian, which happens at local noon or midnight; the exact moment is dependent on the geographical longitude, to a lesser extent on the time of the year. The length of such a day is nearly constant; this is the time as indicated by modern sundials. A further improvement defines a fictitious mean Sun that moves with constant speed along the celestial equator. A day, understood as the span of time it takes for the Earth to make one entire rotation with respect to the celestial background or a distant star, is called a stellar day; this period of rotation is about 4 minutes less than 24 hours and there are about 366.2422 stellar days in one mean tropical year.
Other planets and moons have solar days of different lengths from Earth's. A day, in the sense of daytime, distinguished from night time, is defined as the period during which sunlight directly reaches the ground, assuming that there are no local obstacles; the length of daytime averages more than half of the 24-hour day. Two effects make daytime on average longer than nights; the Sun has an apparent size of about 32 minutes of arc. Additionally, the atmosphere refracts sunlight in such a way that some of it reaches the ground when the Sun is below the horizon by about 34 minutes of arc. So the first light reaches the ground when the centre of the Sun is still below the horizon by about 50 minutes of arc. Thus, daytime is on average around 7 minutes longer than 12 hours; the term comes from the Old English dæg, with its cognates such as dagur in Icelandic, Tag in German, dag in Norwegian, Danish and Dutch. All of them from the Indo-European root dyau which explains the similarity with Latin dies though the word is known to come from the Germanic branch.
As of October 17, 2015, day is the 205th most common word in US English, the 210th most common in UK English. A day, symbol d, defined as 86 400 seconds, is not an SI unit, but is accepted for use with SI; the Second is the base unit of time in SI units. In 1967–68, during the 13th CGPM, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures redefined a second as … the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom; this makes the SI-based day last 794 243 384 928 000 of those periods. Due to tidal effects, the
The asteroid belt is the circumstellar disc in the Solar System located between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called minor planets; the asteroid belt is termed the main asteroid belt or main belt to distinguish it from other asteroid populations in the Solar System such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids. About half the mass of the belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, Vesta and Hygiea; the total mass of the asteroid belt is 4% that of the Moon, or 22% that of Pluto, twice that of Pluto's moon Charon. Ceres, the asteroid belt's only dwarf planet, is about 950 km in diameter, whereas 4 Vesta, 2 Pallas, 10 Hygiea have mean diameters of less than 600 km; the remaining bodies range down to the size of a dust particle. The asteroid material is so thinly distributed that numerous unmanned spacecraft have traversed it without incident. Nonetheless, collisions between large asteroids do occur, these can produce an asteroid family whose members have similar orbital characteristics and compositions.
Individual asteroids within the asteroid belt are categorized by their spectra, with most falling into three basic groups: carbonaceous and metal-rich. The asteroid belt formed from the primordial solar nebula as a group of planetesimals. Planetesimals are the smaller precursors of the protoplanets. Between Mars and Jupiter, gravitational perturbations from Jupiter imbued the protoplanets with too much orbital energy for them to accrete into a planet. Collisions became too violent, instead of fusing together, the planetesimals and most of the protoplanets shattered; as a result, 99.9% of the asteroid belt's original mass was lost in the first 100 million years of the Solar System's history. Some fragments found their way into the inner Solar System, leading to meteorite impacts with the inner planets. Asteroid orbits continue to be appreciably perturbed whenever their period of revolution about the Sun forms an orbital resonance with Jupiter. At these orbital distances, a Kirkwood gap occurs. Classes of small Solar System bodies in other regions are the near-Earth objects, the centaurs, the Kuiper belt objects, the scattered disc objects, the sednoids, the Oort cloud objects.
On 22 January 2014, ESA scientists reported the detection, for the first definitive time, of water vapor on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The detection was made by using the far-infrared abilities of the Herschel Space Observatory; the finding was unexpected because comets, not asteroids, are considered to "sprout jets and plumes". According to one of the scientists, "The lines are becoming more and more blurred between comets and asteroids." In 1596, Johannes Kepler predicted “Between Mars and Jupiter, I place a planet” in his Mysterium Cosmographicum. While analyzing Tycho Brahe's data, Kepler thought that there was too large a gap between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In an anonymous footnote to his 1766 translation of Charles Bonnet's Contemplation de la Nature, the astronomer Johann Daniel Titius of Wittenberg noted an apparent pattern in the layout of the planets. If one began a numerical sequence at 0 included 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, etc. doubling each time, added four to each number and divided by 10, this produced a remarkably close approximation to the radii of the orbits of the known planets as measured in astronomical units provided one allowed for a "missing planet" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
In his footnote, Titius declared "But should the Lord Architect have left that space empty? Not at all."When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, the planet's orbit matched the law perfectly, leading astronomers to conclude that there had to be a planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. On January 1, 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi, chair of astronomy at the University of Palermo, found a tiny moving object in an orbit with the radius predicted by this pattern, he dubbed it "Ceres", after the Roman goddess of the patron of Sicily. Piazzi believed it to be a comet, but its lack of a coma suggested it was a planet. Thus, the aforementioned pattern, now known as the Titius–Bode law, predicted the semi-major axes of all eight planets of the time. Fifteen months Heinrich Olbers discovered a second object in the same region, Pallas. Unlike the other known planets and Pallas remained points of light under the highest telescope magnifications instead of resolving into discs. Apart from their rapid movement, they appeared indistinguishable from stars.
Accordingly, in 1802, William Herschel suggested they be placed into a separate category, named "asteroids", after the Greek asteroeides, meaning "star-like". Upon completing a series of observations of Ceres and Pallas, he concluded, Neither the appellation of planets nor that of comets, can with any propriety of language be given to these two stars... They resemble small stars so much. From this, their asteroidal appearance, if I take my name, call them Asteroids. By 1807, further investigation revealed two new objects in the region: Vesta; the burning of Lilienthal in the Napoleonic wars, where the main body of work had been done, brought this first period of discovery to a close. Despite Herschel's coinage, for several decades it remained common practice to refer to these objects as planets and to prefix t