Astronomers stunned by asteroid trailing Mars that is a ‘dead-ringer’ for the moon
Trojan asteroids share the identical orbital path as sure planets, both main forward of the planet or trailing behind., however Mars has a number of of them as effectively. One in all these Martian companions — asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 — could possibly be a stunt double for our personal moon.
A workforce led by researchers on the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) in Northern Eire took an in depth take a look at asteroid 101429’s composition and drew some fascinating connections to our lunar neighbor in a examine set for the January 2021 problem of the journal Icarus and revealed on-line August 1.
The planetary scientists used the X-shooter spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Giant Telescope in Chile to take a look at how daylight displays off the asteroid’s floor. They analyzed this information and in contrast it with different know house our bodies.
Earlier observations of the asteroid, which trails behind Mars on the identical orbital path, led the workforce to suppose it may need an analogous composition to a typical kind of meteorite. “To their shock, they discovered that one of the best spectral match was not with different small our bodies however with our nearest neighbor, the moon,” stated lead writer Apostolos Christou in an AOP assertion on Tuesday.
Examine co-author Galin Borisov with AOP described asteroid 101429 as a “dead-ringer for elements of the moon the place there’s uncovered bedrock equivalent to crater interiors and mountains.”
So what’s the asteroid’s origin story? The researchers proposed a number of choices. It could really be just like frequent meteorites in spite of everything, but it surely’s simply been worn down by its house adventures over time.
It may probably be a piece of the moon. Christou described the debris-filled early photo voltaic system again when the moon was getting smacked by giant asteroids: “A shard from such a collision may have reached the orbit of Mars when the planet was nonetheless forming and was trapped in its Trojan clouds,” he stated.
A 3rd concept is that the asteroid was knocked off of Mars by an analogous affect situation. Christou described this idea as “maybe extra probably.”
The asteroid stays an open-ended thriller, but when the moon ever wants a stand-in for a number of days, we all know who to name.