How Big Are The Known Asteroids in the Solar System?

We have another question from a very patient ARSE follower, so let's go ahead and: Ask ARSE.

"Hey guys, long time no ask?

Anyway, I was wondering with all the new technology in locating asteroids and diverting them from Earth, I was wondering just how big the asteroids in the solar system are?

Any world enders?

Cheers guys,
Mark"

Indeed it has been too long Mark and we thank you for sticking with us!

Firstly, lets put this into scale with what you asked about 'world enders' which we assume is killing most life on Earth and not utterly disintegrating the planet itself. 

The asteroid that struck Earth and laid waste to the dinosaurs was a meagre 81km across as best as we can tell.

This is sufficient enough to destroy the majority of life on Earth and sending us back into the stone age. 

However, the issue with your question isn't in the size of the asteroid.

Rather, the trajectory as asteroids can be well over the size required for global civilisation destruction but could be nowhere near on course for Earth.

So they're about as dangerous to us as fairy floss.

We're going to walk you through an amazing video created by Alvaro Gracia Montoya from MetaBallStudio.

Keep in mind the scale being used whether its a man, car, house or even New York City!

Smaller asteroids are about the size of a car.

The lightweights.

The smallest asteroids are almost dust-like, but we're not going too deep into that as the larger ones are at the forefront of your question. 

The range of asteroids in our solar system goes from the Elon Musk sized to the downright overkill.

As far as rocks the size of the dinosaur killer (81m) and beyond, we know of a few that make that guy look like Joe Pesci. 

  • 1902 Shaposhnikov is an asteroid from the outermost region of the asteroid belt approximately 92 kilometres in diameter. Never fear, she is safely orbiting the gas giant Jupiter. 
  • Next in size of asteroids over 81km diameter is 5 Astraea, an asteroid with a diameter of 119km that was the fifth ever discovered in 1845 by Karl Ludwig Hencke a post office headmaster. 
  • 20 Massalia is definitely a planet-killer at 145km diameter however is located 628.3 million km from us at the innermost part of the asteroid belt. 

Now we get to the heavyweights, the asteroids that are more than three times the size of the dinosaur extinction asteroid.

Some asteroids dwarf New York city and are upwards of 200km

The Heavyweights.

  • 45 Eugenia is a staggering 214km in diameter and is so large that it actually has a moon orbiting it. However, astronomers have speculated that it is of very low density like a floating pile of rubble. 
  • 87 Sylvia is a hefty 286km wide at its thickest and has a number of moons orbiting it at any time.
  • 52 Europa is over three times the size of the asteroid that started the ice age at 315km in diameter. 
  • 10 Hygiea is a MASSIVE jump up in size from 52 Europa with a mammoth diameter of 434km and contributes 2.9% of the entire mass of our asteroid belt in our solar system!
  • 2 Pallas is the second asteroid to ever be discovered and it is easy to see why as its immense 512km diameter would take almost 6 hours to drive across and makes up a whopping 7% of our asteroid belt mass.
  • 4 Vesta, as you can probably guess is the fourth asteroid to be discovered by man and is a little step up from 2 Pallas at 525km in diameter. 

Ceres 1, the first astroid ever found is gigantic and almost double the size of its nearest sibling.

The Ultra Heavyweight King!

Ceres 1 is by far the largest asteroid within our solar system at a gargantuan 939km diameter and as it is shaped like a moon it makes it seem all the larger. 

Ceres 1 was so large that it was originally incorrectly identified as a planet upon discovery in 1801.

With a crust and mantle consisting of 60% rock and 40% ice, an object of this size would do immense catastrophic damage to Earth that we can't even begin to imagine. 

For a full walkthrough check the amazing video out here and remember to keep thrusting into the deep unknown with us!