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The Asteroid Belt
The dwarf planet called Ceres orbits the Sun in the asteroid belt.

An asteroid is a bit of rock. It can be thought of as what was "left over" after the Sun and all the planets were formed. Most of the asteroids in our solar system can be found orbiting the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This area is sometimes called the "asteroid belt". Think about it this way: the asteroid belt is a big highway in a circle around the Sun. Think about the asteroids as cars on the highway. Sometimes, the asteroid cars run into one another. When this happens, the asteroids may break up into smaller asteroids. Scientists think that most asteroids are the result of collisions between larger rocky space bodies.

Asteroids can be a few feet to several hundred miles wide. The belt probably contains at least 40,000 asteroids that are more than 0.5 miles across.

If an asteroid is captured by the gravitational pull of a planet, the asteroid can be pulled out of the belt and go into orbit as a moon around the planet that pulled on it.

Asteroid Belt

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A Question

Between what two planets will you find the asteroid belt?

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Did you know?
The Answer
Show me the Level 2 version of this page.

The StarChild site is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC.

StarChild Authors: The StarChild Team
StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
StarChild Project Leader: Dr. Laura A. Whitlock
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman

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