An asteroid is defined as being a small planetary object that orbits around the Sun. Many of the asteroids in the solar system have their own orbit and spin on their own axis. Asteroids are sometimes referred to as minor planets or planetoids and are mostly located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Generally speaking if the rocky object in space is not a planet or a moon, it is classified as an asteroid. They can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a small moon. So what is the largest known asteroid? Read this article to find out.
What is the largest known asteroid?
As with all stellar bodies it is difficult to discern the actual size and dimensions of the object leading to estimations based on the available information. Based on this information at present it is commonly agreed that the largest known asteroid within the solar system is the asteroid Ceres. Ceres is also classed as a dwarf planet and is composed of rock and ice. Ceres is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and was discovered in 1801 during a search for the missing planet. Ceres is 950 km (590 mi) in diameter and is so large that it makes up 32% of the total mass of the asteroid belt. Ceres is too dim to be able to see from Earth with the naked eye, but many images of the asteroid have been captured by the Hubble Telescope.
Because Ceres is also known as a dwarf planet another of the asteroids in the belt is also sometimes considered to be the largest asteroid within the Solar system. This asteroid is called Vesta and is about 525 kilometers (326 mi) in diameter. This is slightly smaller than another asteroid Pallas, but Vesta has more mass.
Eris is a dwarf planet that is located beyond the orbit of Neptune and is significantly larger than Ceres. This dwarf planet could be considered the largest known asteroid. Eris is classified as the most massive dwarf planet and is 2326 km in diameter. It was discovered in 2005. There is some conjecture over its actual size due to its great distance from the Earth. Scientists are unsure whether it is larger or smaller than Pluto.