The table below shows the orbital information for several asteroids.

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The table below shows the orbital information for several asteroids. Which has the most circular orbit? Why?

OBJECTPERIOD(Years)ORBIT SIZE(AU)ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY
Asteroid 10.690.780.07
Asteroid 21.401.250.65
Asteroid 34.912.890.60
Asteroid 48.914.300.09
Mar 6th, 2015

The most circular orbit is the one with the lowest eccentricity (Asteroid 1).

This is because eccentricity 0 is a perfect circle; eccentricity increases as the perihelion distance becomes more difference to the aphelion distance:

e = 1 - Dper/a <- As Dper gets smaller compared to Dap (and therefore a) this gets closer to 1-0 = 1

Mar 6th, 2015

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