The University of Florida researchers examined 200,000 asteroids in the inner asteroid belt. That's a pretty accurate description, but that doesn't mean that asteroids don't get to have families.
Each asteroid that traces its birth back to the same body helps form a larger asteroid "family" and scientists are now using this information as a foundation for explaining what the long-lost planets were like, including their composition, while also attempting to determine why some asteroids within the same family can differ dramatically.
The lead author of the study, astronomer Stanley Dermott at the University of Florida, did not actually had plans to solve the mystery associated with the evolution of the Solar System.
The researchers say that these connections suggest that up to 85 percent of the asteroids in the inner belt can be attributed to five known families: Flora, Vesta, Nysa, Polana and Eulalia. They focused on features of their orbits such as how oval-shaped or eccentric they were, or how tilted or inclined they were with respect to the sun's equator.
These new findings cast light on the origins of most meteorites that hit Earth.
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The remaining 15 percent of asteroids and meteors could originate from the same group of bodies but the study concluded it is morel likely they came from a "few ghost families". "Scientists have these wonderful collections of meteorites, and they're all slightly different", Dermott said.
Future research can investigate the asteroids of the middle and outer main belt, Dermott said.
"We have to know the processes that produce the bodies that we live on". "I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually trace the origins of all asteroids in the main asteroid belt, not just those in the inner belt, to a small number of known parent bodies". Meanwhile, meteorites are rocks that land on the Earth's surface, most of which are fragments of asteroids that broke up long ago.
It is important that such telescopes are developed because then it will be easier to know in advance about the asteroids that might collide with Earth. The study was published on 2 July in Nature Astronomy, and it made an exciting discovery.
According to Dermott: "By learning more about how the asteroids have evolved over time, that helps us learn what they are made of, and knowing what a near-Earth asteroid is made of is going to be of big help if we want to know how to deflect it".