Two Asteroids think they are a Comet

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered something truly unique – a pair of orbiting asteroids that are behaving like a comet.

A group of astronomers used the NASA/ESA telescope to observe the system known as 288P in September 2016, just before it made its closest approach to our Sun. To their surprise, 288P is not a single asteroid, as previously thought, but a pair of orbiting space rocks with very unusual characteristics.

The asteroids are orbiting at a distance of about 100km, much farther than any other known binary pair. But what’s also unusual is that they are exhibiting the features of a comet, including a bright coma and a long tail.

NASA, ESA, and J. Agarwal, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

(Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Agarwal, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research)

“We detected strong indications of the sublimation of water ice due to the increased solar heating – similar to how the tail of a comet is created,” explained Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, the team leader and main author of the research paper published in Nature.

This strange behaviour makes 288P the first known binary asteroid that is also classified as a main-belt comet. There are other asteroids that orbit each other and those that are releasing vapour, but this is the first time astronomers have seen both characteristics at once.

Astronomers take every chance they can get to study asteroids up close because these space rocks hold vital clues as to how certain planets, like Earth, end up with water, while others get none. The composition of asteroids in the asteroid belt of our Solar System has remained virtually the same since the planets were formed, telling us a lot about the materials that went into making those planets and how they may have been formed.

But asteroids are very difficult to examine because, in cosmic terms, they’re pretty small and dim. Having one pass close by is a great opportunity for study and the fact that these two orbit each other allows the researchers to gather more information, including calculating their masses. The fact that the system is trailing water also proves that it hasn’t been in this binary situation for long.

Original article here

 

Capture the Asteroids 2017

Capture the Asteroids and win a free gift!

 

 

For participation please keep in mind:

  1. Only amateur photographers are allowed to compete. If you are a professional astronomer or have an IAU observatory code, your are not allowed to participate.
  2. Submissions includes at least two images of the same Asteroid (can be an animation). Images cover enough time to show its motion across the sky
  3. The Winners would be decided on the basis of photo quality and how well Asteroids are captured
  4. Submissions have so be sent via email to northoltbranchobservatory@hotmail.com and contact@neoshield.eu
  5. Required information: name of observer, location, date and time, equipment (telescope and camera specifications), name of Asteroid
  6. The competition will be open until 15th November 2017

Please check the following article from Northolt Branch Observatory for introduction and useful tips: https://www.facebook.com/notes/northolt-branch-observatories/how-to-capture-an-asteroid-first-steps/1698206460214218/

Ancient Asteroid Generated the Hottest Temp Ever Recorded on Earth

When an asteroid smashes into the Earth things get pretty toasty.

A 17 mile-wide crater in Canada was home to what scientists say is the hottest temperature ever recorded in Earth’s crustal rock, a whopping 4,300 degrees Fahrenheit. They didn’t just stick a thermometer in there, of course, the crater is some 36 million years old. Instead, researchers from Curtin University in Australia looked to the rocks.

Embedded in the crater walls were crystals of cubic zirconia, a mineral that forms only under temperatures of at least 4,300 F, indicating that the force of the impact caused the surrounding rock to get at least that hot, if not even more scorching. This is the first time scientists have ever looked for the crystals, the researchers say in a paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, which offer a means of approximating the conditions of meteor impacts.

Meteors tend to vaporize most of the things they crash into, rocks included, so there’s little actually left over. Cubic zirconia — the same elements used to create artificial diamonds — survives in tiny fragments, however, acting as a kind of thermometer.

Though the heat would have only lasted briefly, the temperature was around half as hot as the surface of the sun, and far hotter than the inside of a steel forge.

The findings could help researchers better understand how the early Earth evolved. Meteor impacts were much more common in the early days of the solar system, and the planet would have seen thousands of similar blazing impacts. Their force would have played a role in shaping the composition of the crust and altered the mix of elements in the atmosphere, eventually setting the stage for life to appear. Studying the aftermath of the impacts lets us peer back to those formative millennia.

 

(Credit: Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock)

Original article here

Asteroid Apophis has one in 100,000 chance of hitting Earth

by Tomasz Nowakowski, Astrowatch.net

apophis impact threat

The huge, nearly 400-meter-wide asteroid Apophis is still on a list of hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs), regarded as a potential threat to the planet. However, new calculations made by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) show that Apophis’ odds of Earth impact are lower than previously estimated.

“We cannot yet exclude the possibility that it could impact our planet, but we can calculate that the chance of Earth impact is only one-in-100,000 over the next century, which, of course, is extremely small,” Paul Chodas, manager of JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies told Astrowatch.net.

Discovered in 2004, asteroid Apophis is slated to fly by Earth on April 13, 2029. Initial observations of this space rock indicated that it has one in 36 chance of hitting the Earth on that day, but additional monitoring of Apophis completely ruled out this possibility.

However, Alberto Cellino of the Observatory of Turin in Italy told Astrowatch.net in June that although the potential impact in 2029 was excluded, we cannot rule out such an event in the more distant future. Given the fact that NEO orbits are chaotic, what is not dangerous today can become a candidate impactor in the future.

That is why astronomers, including Chodas, emphasize the importance of detailed observations of Apophis and its constant monitoring, which could confirm that this asteroid poses no danger to us.

“Apophis is certainly a hazardous asteroid, and for that reason, it has been tracked extensively. And so we know its orbit very accurately. In all likelihood, further tracking measurements will eliminate even that possibility (one in 100,000),” Chodas noted.

Astronomers estimate that on April 13, 2029, Apophis will pass by the Earth at a distance of no closer than 18,300 miles (29,470 kilometers). The next close approach of this asteroid is expected in April 2036, when it will miss Earth at a much larger distance of approximately 30.5 million miles (49 million kilometers).

Currently, there are 1,803 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) detected to date. PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 4.65 million miles (7.5 million kilometers). However, none of the known PHAs is on a collision course with Earth.

 

Original article here.