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On the Edge of Round: 500-Kilometer Worlds

On the Edge of Round: 500-Kilometer Worlds

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Emily Lakdawalla for The Planetary Society using image data from NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / MPS / DLR / IDA / ESO / Vernazza et al., processed by Björn Jónsson, Emily Lakdawalla, Ted Stryk, and Gordan Ugarkovic

On the Edge of Round: 500-Kilometer Worlds
There are 7 worlds in the solar system inside the Kuiper belt with diameters of approximately 500 kilometers: 3 asteroids (Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea) and 4 moons (Mimas, Enceladus, Miranda, and Proteus). At this size, self-gravity and the strength of the component materials are very closely matched, so the shapes very from smoothly round (Enceladus) to dramatically lumpy (Vesta). The shape of each world depends on what kind of material it's made of as well as its geologic history. Enceladus' and Mimas' rounder shapes arise from their present and past warming, while Vesta's and Pallas' lumpier shapes reflect histories of major impacts.

Sources for the dimensions of the asteorids:

Images and shape models of the newly imaged asteroids are available.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For uses not allowed by that license, contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder

Original image data dated on or about April 20, 2020

Explore related images: asteroid 4 Vesta, Enceladus, Proteus, BMSIL, infographic, miscellaneous asteroids, scale comparisons, Miranda, asteroid 2 Pallas, Mimas

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