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Discover the first asteroid with 3 moons

Discover the first asteroid with 3 moons

© NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J. da Silva / Spaceengine

Asteroids are not necessarily solitary organisms, and in some cases they can have several smaller companions. researchers The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand We now have the first system out 4 asteroids have found.

130 electroor just “Electra”, it has the same thing 3 moons. These guys are hard to find. Just something about 150 of 1.1 million The asteroids that have been found have so far been able to discover the moons.

Schematic representation of Electra and its moons

Discovered in 1873

The diameter of the Electra is approx 260 km It was already 1873 It is found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Its first moon is 6 km widespread and became 2003 Discover. It revolves around the Electra in Distance 1300 km. The second was only 2 km wide 2014 found, at a distance of 500 km to Electra.

The third moon discovered now is smaller and closer to the Electra. diameter 1 mile And he’s just 340 km away from the central asteroid. shines 15,000 times weaker Like Electra.

Data reduction and algorithms

Finding asteroids is already quite a challenge because they tend to be faintly glowing. Their moons are difficult to observe because they are smaller and therefore reflect less light.

To find the third moon use the study leader Anthony Perdue data Spur machines of Europeans Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. He triggered this with his newly developed data limitation system. This removes noise from the data.

with the help of data processing algorithms The halo of light has also been reduced by Elektra. After all these steps the third moon appeared.

The origin remains a mystery

How these asteroid systems form is unknown. Some may form from dust emitted from the central asteroid, and others from debris from collisions with other objects. Asteroids can also pick up other objects as they travel through space.

“The discovery of the first quaternary system can help in understanding the mechanisms that constitute such systems,” the researchers wrote in their paper. The technology could also help find more of these systems in the future. The results were published in the specialized journal Astrophysical Journal Letters chest.

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