The Recent Origin of Main Belt Asteroids
The main asteroid belt (MAB) occupies a donut-shaped (toroidal) region far from the Earth, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The asteroids which comprise it are not closely packed as movies on the TV depict them. Although there are perhaps one million asteroids larger than 1 km in the main belt, the space they occupy is so vast that the average distance between them is about 500,000 kilometers. They all orbit the Sun in the same sense (counter-clockwise) as the planets.
The primary clue to their recent creation is the relatively large average inclination of their orbits. The orbits of all the planets lie within about 3 degrees of the orbit of the Earth, which astronomers use to define zero inclination, thus the solar system as a whole is quite flat. However, the main belt asteroids’ orbital inclinations range up to some 28 degrees, with 90% between 0 and 20 degrees. Astronomers believe that these are the same kinds of rocky bodies out of which the terrestrial planets accreted 4.6 billion years ago, but that because of the gravitational influence of Jupiter, they were prevented from accreting to form a planet-like body.
The question which modern astronomy avoids is: If they are 4.6 billion years old, why have they not settled into the flat plane of the solar system, like all of the planets?
The CC scenario the main belt asteroids were ejected from Jupiter at high inclinations by an enormous jet of hot gases within the last 6,000 years, thus have not had time to settle into the plane of the solar system. The planet Venus was created, as were all the more ancient terrestrial planets, by a high energy impact on Jupiter 6,000 years ago. Because Jupiter is a frozen, solid, methane gas hydrate body, the impact triggered a fusion explosion so enormous that a plasma cloud, more than one thousand times the size of Jupiter itself, rebounded and the heavy elements within that roiling hot cloud formed the hot planet Venus we see today.
The nuclear fusion initiated in the impact crater on Jupiter continued to burn so fiercely that it sent a jet of flaming gases a million and a half miles out into space, diminishing only slowly over thousands of years. The jet swept around as the giant planet rotated, cooling, combining, and freezing as the gas expanded out into space. The most well known satellites of Jupiter, the Galilean moons, formed hot at the time of Venus’ birth in their current synchronized orbits, but were repeatedly coated with material from the jet for millennia. Indeed, the slowly diminishing jet is manifested in the puzzling differences and composition of these four bodies. The jet material striking the outer moons had frozen into large chunks of ice before impacting and causing craters. The jet was so hot at the radius of Europa in the first few millennia, that only the heavy elements could condense on it forming a rocky-iron core, then with further cooling the great mass of water, which comprised the bulk of the jet was later able to condense to form its ocean surface, which, because of its recent formation, is still fluid beneath the icy surface.on Europa. Io received the most and the hottest effect of the jet and has always been too hot for water to condense on it. These moons are not heated by gravitational tugging, but because of their recent fiery birth.
However, because the jet was located at 22.5 degrees south latitude, the position currently well marked by the Great Red Spot, much of the jetted material missed the Galilean moons and accreted (froze) to form all of the main belt asteroids, similar to the bodies which produced the impact craters on Ganymede and Callisto. As a result of their formation from the body of Jupiter, the main belt asteroids have the same proportion of the elements as the giant planet. They are primarily water but have a proportional abundance of all the heavier elements, including iron. As a result of their freezing while still within the magnetic field of Jupiter they each incorporate a permanent magnetic field. These same properties – low density and magnetic fields, have been observed by several close passes of probes. Since astronomers believe that meteorites, with densities of 3 g/cm^3 are bodies originally deflected from the MAB, they have difficulty explaining the unexpectedly low measured densities, suggesting that they are perhaps not rigid bodies, but are ‘rubble piles’ of rocks held together by gravity.
The Cyclic Catastrophism scenario very nicely explains the high orbital inclinations of the main belt asteroids. First, by the fact that they were only created recently and therefore have not had time to be slowly drawn into the plane of the solar system. More quantitatively, it also explains the range of their inclinations. Three factors come into play: (a) the orbital inclination of Jupiter itself; 1.3 degrees; (b) the inclination of its axis of rotation (obliquity), 3.13 degrees; and (c) the latitude of the Great Red Spot, which marks the crater from which the the gas jetted for some six millennia, -22.5 degrees. The sum of all these factors, approximately 27 degrees, gives the possible range of inclinations of the bodies which formed from the jet shooting out of Jupiter. The figure above expresses in ’3D’ the orbital inclinations on the left scale as a function of the semi-major axis at the bottom, while the numbers of asteroids is given in the form of a color scale. Note that the inclinations shown are limited to the precise range consistent the cyclic catastrophism scenario. The gaps in the semi-major axes are due to gravitational resonances with Jupiter which excluded certain orbits.
The semi-major axes of the main belt asteroids varied considerably due to the rotation (spin) of the planet. Jupiter now rotates with a period of about ten hours, but rotated considerably faster, perhaps in seven hours before the Venus impact. The slowing of Jupiter’s rotation which has been taking place recently was due to the angular momentum ejected by the enormous jet over the last six millennia. The monotonic ‘tail’ end of this rotational slowing, which continued until about 1930, is currently imagined to represent the ‘drift’ of the Great Red Spot, consistent with the belief that only a storm can exist on a gas planet.
Bodies which froze from the jet when directed parallel to Jupiter’s orbital motion were given a higher orbital velocity and thus a larger semi-major axis, in fact these bodies may comprise the Kuiper belt. The streams ejected in the opposite direction would have attained lower semi-major axes, resulting in highly eccentric orbits of bodies which decay and eventually impact the Sun (Kreutzer ‘comets’), causing sunspots. The fact that these bodies appear as comets as they approach the Sun is due to their high water composition. Those bodies ejected in the intermediate directions probably comprise the majority of the observed main belt asteroids.
Apparently the jet shooting from Jupiter was still sufficiently large to be observed in the ninth century at which time a drawing of it was included in an Arabic text. This drawing was a classification of (temporary) comets in terms of planetary (permanent) characteristics at that date. The title of the document is not known, but was probably a short epistle on comets, not a longer text which is termed a Kitab al-Mughni. A really interesting aspect of this depiction of Jupiter is the implication that an Arab culture had astronomical telescopes in the ninth century.
The icy main belt asteroids have nothing whatsoever to do with the rocky-iron near earth asteroids, which are the result of tens of thousands convulsions within priori-Mars as it orbited the Earth only 32,000 km distant, up until 700 BC.