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Diagram of the Asteroid Belt

Diagram of the Asteroid Belt

C038/3861

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Credit

MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Schematic illustration showing the layout and position of the asteroid belt. This is a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where most asteroids (small bodies of rock, carbon and iron) orbit the Sun. The innermost edge is at about 2 astronomical units (AU), with orbital periods of around 3 years. The outermost edge is at 3.3 AU, with orbital periods up to about 6 years. The belt is not flat, confined to the ecliptic (the Earth's orbit). Instead it rises out of the ecliptic, being shaped somewhat like a donut.

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