Asteroids can be classified into two broad groups based on their composition and location: carbon-rich asteroids dominate the outer part of the asteroid belt, whereas metal-rich asteroids dominate...

Asteroids can be classified into two broad groups based on their composition and location: carbon-rich asteroids dominate the outer part of the asteroid belt, whereas metal-rich asteroids dominate the inner part of the belt. Analysis of the fragment we have discussed in this project reveals that it contains nearly equal amounts of metals and carbon. Can you conclude that the original whole asteroid had a similar composition? Can you conclude with a high degree of confidence that the asteroid originated in the middle regions of the asteroid belt? Explain your reasoning. If you would need more data from the asteroid analysis, what would you like to see?

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mr-mayonnaise | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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When talking about the composition of any celestial object we look towards its make-up to find its source. Whatever kind of material it is made of normally indicates where it came from.

Carbon asteroids (C-type) are the most common and are similar in composition to our Sun and nebulae. This could show that the asteroid was created by a supernova star or other cosmic activity that released a large amount of carbon that clumped together to form an asteroid.

Metal asteroids (M-type) are the least common of the 3 varieties (Silicates being the other) and could be the result of impacts between much larger asteroids, planetoids and planets. Many could have been formed as the solar system was taking shape and cores of early planets were exposed by violent trauma.  

Before we decide on what the parent asteroid may have been we would first need to know if the composition of the asteroid in our sample was consistent throughout the stone. If there are obvious lines separating the two materials then it can be assumed that this asteroid is the result of a collision between two other asteroids. However, if it is consistent throughout then it would take much larger forces to create that kind of mixture. Enough heat to melt the original two asteroids and enough pressure to meld them without breaking them down into different elements. 

Assuming that each type of asteroid (C and M) come from different sources it would be rare to find one that came from the same source with multiple compositions. Because of this it is extremely likely that this sample is a result of some crossing over between the outer and middle layers of the belt. Some collision at one point may have created the parent asteroid this sample was taken from. But again, the biggest thing I would like to see about this asteroid is how the different materials are mixed, spread throughout the rock or more evenly with planes. Also, the density at which the carbon is packed could tell us about the heat and pressure used to create that stone, whereas the type of metal (more commonly iron/nickel) could also help explain its origins. 

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