Glossary term: Asteroid Family

Description: A family of asteroids is a group of asteroids with the similar orbital elements: semi-major axis (the typical distance from the Sun), eccentricity (a parameter relating to the shape of the orbit), and orbital inclination. Members of an asteroid family may also share similar compositions, i.e. the amount of rocky material, different metals, or water they contain. It is thought that the members of these groups may be the remains of past collisions between larger asteroids.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

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