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Some Other Members of the Solar System Asteroids




Asteroids are very small planets of rock and metal which revolve round the Sun mainly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Actually, asteroids are a belt of a kind which somehow failed to assemble into a planet and keep revolving between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. There may be as many as 1, 00,000 asteroids. The biggest asteroid called ‘Ceres’ has a diameter of about 800 kilometers whereas the smallest asteroid is as small as a pebble. Some experts believe that asteroids are the pieces of a large planet that went too close to Jupiter and was broken up by its gravitational pull. Others think that they are part of a ring of separate pieces of matter formed at the same time as the rest of the planets.






We have already studied that Pluto is the outermost planet of the solar system. But the orbit of Pluto does not mark the boundary of the solar system. The solar system extends much beyond the orbit of its outermost planet Pluto. At the edge of the solar system, there are billions of very small objects called ‘comets’. These comets were formed very early from the same gas cloud from which other members of the solar system were made. These comets are so far off that they are unknown to the world.




Thus, a comet is a collection of gas and dust which appears as a bright ball of light in the sky with a long glowing tail in the figure. The tail of a comet always points away from the sun.



Many times we see a streak of light in the sky during night which disappears within seconds. It is called a meteor or a shooting star. Meteors are the heavenly bodies from the sky which we see as a bright streak of light that flashes for a moment across the sky. Some meteors are the dust particles left behind by comets and the others are the pieces of asteroids which have collided. Some meteors are so large that a part of them reaches the surface of the earth before they get evaporated completely. These are known as meteorites. They help scientists to study the nature of the material of celestial bodies that are part of the solar system.







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