Brazilian scientists have identified four new families of extremely young asteroids, taking the total number to 13.
The four families, all of which are less than seven million years old, orbit between Mars and Jupiter as part of a grouping known as the Main Asteroid Belt.
The researchers dated the families using a numerical simulation method to process current data to go back in time to the asteroid formation era.
The Main Belt is an extraordinary niche of asteroids, with more than 700 known objects.
The number is rising steadily thanks to improving methods of detection, and it can be estimated at a million.
Various different regions have formed within the belt owing to the highly complex gravitational interaction among so many bodies and, above all, to Jupiter’s powerful gravitational field.
The ascending node is the point at which the orbit crosses from the southern side of a reference plane, typically the ecliptic plane, to the northern side.