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View of 42 objects in the asteroid belt

View of 42 objects in the asteroid belt

View of 42 objects in the asteroid belt
Stefan Detters
October 13, 2021

Yesterday, the European Southern Observatory ESO published images of 42 objects orbiting the sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Most of these asteroids have never been photographed so well before. Recordings arrive with very large telescope
and the instrument sphere It is an important step in asteroid research.

Some of the objects observed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroid images were taken with the Sphere instrument on the Eso Very Large Telescope.
picture: Eso / M. Kornmesser / Vernazza et al. / MISTRAL algorithm (ONERA / CNRS)


“Only three large asteroids in the main belt, Ceres, Vesta and Lutetia, have so far been photographed in great detail because they were from space missions.
dawn And Rashid NASA and the European Space Agency ESA have been visited,” explains Pierre Vernazza from Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory In France, who led the study of the asteroid that is now presented. “Our Eso observations provided accurate images of several targets, 42 total.”

Until now, the important properties of many of these pieces orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter were largely unknown. For example, little is known about its three-dimensional structure or density. For this reason, Vernazza and his team set out to observe several of these asteroids between 2017 and 2019.

Most of the pieces recorded are more than 100 km in diameter, of the objects with a diameter of more than 200 km, almost all were photographed, 20 out of the 23, with the dwarf planet Ceres and the asteroid Vesta at an altitude of 950 km and 530 km km respectively had the largest Diameter. With a diameter of about 90 kilometers, Urania and Osonia were the smallest asteroids in the study.

From their observation data made with the tool sphere (High Contrast Polarizing Spectroscopy of Exoplanets REsearch) AM very large telescope This was done, and the team was also able to reconstruct the shape of the objects, as two completely different families appeared: some objects are almost completely spherical, others have an unusual elongated shape, like the asteroid Cleopatra ( reported).

If one knows the appearance and mass of the asteroids, the cutting density can also be estimated. The team found that the asteroids in their study have very different densities: they range from 1.3 grams per cubic centimeter, which roughly corresponds to the density of coal, to 4.4 grams per cubic centimeter, which is higher than the density of diamond. The different densities provide information about the origin of the pieces.

Explains Josef Hanosch of Karls University in Prague. Asteroids with lower density may have formed in remote areas outside Neptune’s orbit and subsequently migrated to their present location.

Scientists now hope for the next generation of such telescopes very large telescope (ELT), currently under construction in Chile: “ELT observations of asteroids in the main belt will allow us to identify objects up to 35 to 80 kilometers in diameter, depending on their location in the belt, and pits from ten to 25 kilometers to investigate,” Vernazza is looking forward to forward. “a sphereSimilar to the tool in ELT, we can even be able to map a similar set of objects in the distant Kuiper Belt. This means that we will be able to describe the geological history of a much larger number of small bodies of Earth.”

The team reports on their studies in a specialized article in the journal Astronomy and astrophysics He appeared.


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