Orbital resonance with Jupiter

Orbital resonance with Jupiter

. There are very few asteroids at certain distances from the Sun, due to resonance with the orbit of Jupiter. Vertical lines in this diagram of the first 400 numbered asteroids denote these vacancies, called Kirkwood gaps. The ratio 3/1 means that an asteroid at that distance makes 3 revolutions around the Sun for each 1 revolution completed by Jupiter. Asteroids are tossed out of such resonant orbits by Jupiter’s repeated gravitational perturbations. [Adapted from Charles T. Kowal’s Asteroids (New York: John Wiley 1996.)]

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University