asteroid belt


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to asteroid belt: Kuiper belt

asteroid belt

(main belt) The zone near to the plane of the ecliptic and between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter that contains the majority of asteroids, known as main-belt asteroids. The edges are well-defined at distances from the Sun of about 1.7 and 4.0 AU respectively and the orbits are strongly concentrated in the plane of the ecliptic. Even so, the individual asteroids in the main belt are widely spaced. The orbital inclination becomes more scattered on moving through the belt. The average inclination is about 10° and the average eccentricity is 0.15. All the bodies are in direct motion. Occasional collisions between asteroids occur at velocities of about 5 km s–1. See also Kirkwood gaps.

asteroid belt

[′as·tə‚rȯid ‚belt]
(astronomy)
The region between 2.1 and 3.5 astronomical units from the sun where most of the asteroids are found.
References in periodicals archive ?
The team of NASA-funded researchers modeled the evolution of giant impact debris and analyzed ancient impact heating signatures in stony meteorites to conclude that pieces from the giant impact indeed did strike the asteroid belt.
Other asteroids on the asteroid belt, contrastingly, do not have this property likely because Jupiter's gravitational pull and tidal effects prevent the formation of dense celestial bodies.
One candidate planet near the innermost asteroid belt has been detected from the "wobble" effect of its gravity on the star.
NASA will launch the Dawn spacecraft on Thursday on a mission to explore an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in a search for clues to the birth of the solar system.
New evidence suggests that ours is not the only solar system with this type of asteroid belt.
Life on the mineral-rich asteroid belt is hard, and nobody knows it better than the rock rats.
The first is the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, which is currently flying into the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars.
Consider: The asteroid belt contains an estimated 825 quintillion (a billion times a billion) tons of iron - enough to build shells around planets, gigantic cities in space, and starships carrying entire civilizations.
During a circuitous ten-year trek across the Solar System, Rosetta will cross the asteroid belt and travel into deep space, more than five times Earth's distance from the Sun.
With just one temporary tagalong in hand, though, researchers have relied on computer simulations to learn about these visitors from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Ceres is the second and final stop for Dawn, which launched in 2007 on a voyage to the main asteroid belt, a zone between Mars and Jupiter that's littered with rocky leftovers from the formation of the sun and planets some 41/2 billion years ago.
Ceres is the most massive body in the asteroid belt, with an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers).