News Release Archive:

News Release 192 of 1051

November 1, 2012 01:05 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2012-44

Asteroid Belts of Just the Right Size are Friendly to Life


Image: Scenarios for the Evolution of Asteroid Belts

Scenarios for the Evolution of Asteroid BeltsSTScI-PRC2012-44

Screen-use options: These files are created for viewing on your monitor

Print-use download options: These files are designed to fit on letter-size paper

Highest-quality download options: The best resolution available


This illustration shows three possible scenarios for the evolution of asteroid belts. In the top panel, a Jupiter-size planet migrates through the asteroid belt, scattering material and inhibiting the formation of life on planets. The second scenario shows our solar-system model: a Jupiter-size planet that moves slightly inward but is just outside the asteroid belt. In the third illustration, a large planet does not migrate at all, creating a massive asteroid belt. Material from the hefty asteroid belt would bombard planets, possibly preventing life from evolving.

Image Type: Illustration

Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Martin and M. Livio (STScI)