"The environmental anagram that is geology, is a brew of violence. Degradation by cometary wrecking balls...." -- C. Warren Hunt, geologist, 1989
Worlds in Collision: Jupiter, Saturn Plowed Through Asteroids. (Hat tip: Anaconda)
The asteroid belt has long been known to harbor gaps, called Kirkwood gaps, in distinct locations. Some of these gaps correspond to unstable zones, where the modern-day gravitational influence of Jupiter and Saturn eject asteroids. But for the first time, Minton and Malhotra have noticed that some clearings don't fit the bill.
"What we found was that many regions are depleted in asteroids relative to other regions, not just in the previously known Kirkwood gaps that are explained by the current planetary orbits," Minton wrote in an email. In an editorial accompanying the paper, author Kevin Walsh added, "Qualitatively, it looks as if a snow plough were driven through the main asteroid belt, kicking out asteroids along the way and slowing to a stop at the inner edge of the belt."