Asteroid in English


The asteroid refers to the small celestial bodies that circulate around the Sun in an orbit inside that of Neptune. Because they have a dimension smaller than that of a planet, they can also be called planetoids or smaller planets. The word comes from the Greek and is composed of ἀστηρ (aster), which means ‘star’, and ειδής (eidós), ‘form’, ‘appearance’, hence it is also used as an adjective to refer to a thing with form or star figure.

There are millions of asteroids in our Solar System, mostly located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, also known as the asteroid belt. They do not always have a spherical shape, and their dimensions can range between 500 km in diameter (the largest, such as Shovels and Vesta) and 50 m (the smallest).

Asteroids are designated according to a catalog number, whose list is sorted chronologically according to their date of discovery, and they are usually baptized with names derived from Greek mythology. Thus, for example, we find the group of Trojans, consisting of asteroids whose names were taken from the heroes of the Trojan War. Other important groups in the studies of Astronomy are the centaurs, located outside the Solar System, and the groups Love, Apollo and Aton, for their proximity to Earth.

There are different theories about the origin of asteroids. One of them states that they are nothing but the remains of a planet torn apart by the enormous attraction of Jupiter, another refers that the asteroids could be the fragments of the original nebula that never came together and constituted as a planet, and there is also the one that He matches them with comets.

The near passage of asteroids such as the 2000 M26, the 2003 QQ47 or the 2012 DA14, have set the warnings about collision probabilities with the Earth, indicated for March 2014 or for 2016, although they are minimal.

In literature, the most famous asteroid is B 612, the one from which The Little Prince originates, a character in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book.