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What are Asteroids?

Geography | 8-14 yrs | Animation, Video

Asteroids Definition

Asteroids are celestial bodies that orbit around the sun. The word asteroid means star-like and is derived from the Greek words – astor (star) and oid (shape).

The Extinction of Dinosaurs

They are believed to be remnants of the humungous cloud of dust and gases that formed the sun and planets over 4 billion years ago. Most of them lie in a single belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Sometimes changes in gravitational flows and other forces in space cause them to get dislodged from their orbit and move away from the main belt. It is believed that a giant asteroid crashed into earth millions of years ago causing such extreme changes in weather and the extinction of dinosaurs.

How is Asteroid Belt formed?

Scientists believe that the asteroid belt in our solar system could have formed in one of two ways.
1. There existed a planet between Mars and Jupiter that broke up into the belt due to a collision with another celestial body.
2. The rock material in the asteroid belt was unable to fuse into a planet like the others due to Jupiter’s tremendous gravitational force.

Asteroids can be anywhere from a few feet to several kilometers in diameter. The largest asteroid in the belt is known as Ceres. It is 950 km wide, so large that it actually has its own classification, called a dwarf planet.


Can you find out the reason why Pluto was demoted from the status of Planet to a dwarf planet like Ceres?
What is the main difference between a planet and an asteroid?

For more interesting Geography articles and videos, visit our Geography for Kids category.