Trojan asteroids share the identical orbital path as sure planets, both main forward of the planet or trailing behind., however Mars has just a few of them as properly. Considered one of these Martian companions — asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 — could possibly be a stunt double for our personal moon.
A crew 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 study set for the January 2021 issue 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 have a look at how daylight displays off the asteroid’s floor. They analyzed this knowledge and in contrast it with different know area our bodies.
Earlier observations of the asteroid, which trails behind Mars on the identical orbital path, led the crew to assume it may need an identical composition to a standard kind of meteorite. “To their shock, they discovered that the very best spectral match was not with different small our bodies however with our nearest neighbor, the moon,” said lead author Apostolos Christou in an AOP statement on Tuesday.
Examine co-author Galin Borisov with AOP described asteroid 101429 as a “dead-ringer for components of the moon the place there may be uncovered bedrock corresponding to crater interiors and mountains.”
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So what’s the asteroid’s origin story? The researchers proposed a number of choices. It might truly be much like frequent meteorites in spite of everything, nevertheless it’s simply been worn down by its area adventures over time.
It may presumably 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 mentioned.
A 3rd concept is that the asteroid was knocked off of Mars via an identical affect situation. Christou described this idea as “maybe extra seemingly.”
The asteroid stays an open-ended thriller, but when the moon ever wants a stand-in for just a few days, we all know who to name.