AstronomyAnswerBook: Asteroids

This page answers questions about asteroids. The questions are:

I have information about the orbits of 79,084 asteroids. Some aspects are displayed in the following table. \(a\) is the length of the semimajor axis, in AU. \(e\) is the eccentricity. \(i\) is the inclination of the orbit, in degrees. \(q\) is the least distance from the Sun, in AU. \(Q\) is the greatest distance from the Sun, in AU. \(v_\text{min}\) is the least orbital speed, in km/s. \(v_\text{max}\) is the greatest orbital speed, in km/s. < indicates the least value, \(μ\) the mean value, > the greatest value, and \(σ\) is a measure for the spread of the values (that for normally distributed data coincides with the standard deviation but is less sensitive to outliers than the standard deviation). For example, the fastest asteroid I know (Aten) goes 109.52 km/s when that asteroid is closest to the Sun.

Table 1: Orbital Elements of Asteroids

< | \({μ}\) | > | \({σ}\) | |

\({a}\) | 0.642 | 2.704 1 | 20.88 | 0.384 |

\({e}\) | 0.001 | 0.136 | 0.956 | 0.068 |

\({i}\) | 0.025 | 7.742 1 | 60.39 | 5.443 |

\({q}\) | 0.140 | 2.333 | 42.79 | 0.440 |

\({Q}\) | 1.019 | 3.074 2 | 13.20 | 0.404 |

\({v_\text{min}}\) | 0.60 | 16.06 | 25.20 | 1.28 |

\({v_\text{max}}\) | 4.58 | 21.21 1 | 09.52 | 2.39 |

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Last updated: 2016-02-07*