Kirkwood gaps

Kirkwood gaps

. The number of asteroids at different distances from the Sun. Most of the asteroids are found in the asteroid belt that lies between 2.2 and 3.3 AU from the Sun. Repeated gravitational interactions with Jupiter seem to have tossed asteroids out of the Kirkwood gaps with orbital periods of 1/4, 2/7, 1/3, 2/5, 3/7 and 1/2 of Jupiterís orbital period. These fractions are placed above the relevant gap in the figure. In addition, there are several peaks corresponding to groups of asteroids with nearly the same orbital distance, such as the Trojan asteroids that have orbits that are identical in size to the orbit of Jupiter.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University