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The spatial density of asteroids and its variation with asteroidal mass

by N. McBride, D. W. Hughes


Asteroids, in the main, occupy a region of space between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Normally their spatial distribution has been estimated by simply considering the distribution of the semi-major axes of their orbits. Unfortunately this leads to a rather inaccurate picture. In this paper the mass of each asteroid is distributed around its orbit according to the length of time that it spends in each specific region. This leads to a realistic estimation of the way in which the spatial density changes both throughout the asteroid belt and as a function of the masses of the responsible asteroids. Conclusions are drawn as to the total mass of the present day asteroid belt and the initial mass present in this region at the dawn of the Solar System.

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