Monday, July 22, 2024

Discovery of a strange space rock combining the properties of a comet and an asteroid | Science


Comets and asteroids are two types of rocks that propagate in space, but the differences between them are very clear. Comets usually fall from the outer solar system, and they have long elliptical orbits, and they are filled with ice. The transition from a solid state to a gaseous state without going into the liquid state is one of the cases of the “exit” process, i.e. the comet gets trapped as it approaches the sun, releasing frozen or absorbed vapors. It leads to the formation of a halo filled with dust and fog (called coma) and is characterized by its glorious tails.

As for asteroids, they are found in orbit similar to the planets’ orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and are believed to be somewhat dry and rocky, so they tend to show the beautiful pull you see in their exotic relatives.

Space object (248370) 2005 QN173 Comets hidden in asteroid belt (NASA – Caltech)

Combination of properties

In a new scientific study by the Institute of Planetary Science led by astronomer Henry Cheeh Press Release According to the company’s website on October 4, researchers say a space rock was recently discovered in the main asteroid belt – like millions of other asteroids.

It was called (248370) 2005 QN173, but it seems to have two characteristics because it orbits the Sun in a semi-circular shape, even though it looks like a comet, which was observed last July to invade the Sun (perihelion) in close proximity. Signs, and appeared a long tail, which forms a rare combination of the two, which we call an active asteroid or main belt comet.

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Cow Report Published by Scientific Alert 248370 Only one of these 20 or more objects – more than 500,000 in the main belt – is suspected to be comets. Only the main belt and the eighth body were confirmed to belong to this category, and astronomers found that this body was active more than once.

“This behavior strongly suggests that its activity is due to the sublimation of ice products,” Hsieh said in a statement. “248370 asteroids and comets can be considered, or in particular, a large belt asteroid recently considered a comet.”

He added, “This shows the physical properties of the comet because it is likely to emit dust in ice and space, although it also has an asteroid orbit, and the ambiguity between this copy and the two previously believed bodies – asteroids and comets – is an essential part.” That’s what makes this stuff so interesting. “

Although the discovered space object is in the asteroid belt (Wikipedia), it is similar in some respects to comets.

Extremely thin tail

The behavior of 248370 was discovered on July 7, in the data of the Asteroid Terrain-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) early warning system.

The confirmation of the observations taken from the Lowell Discovery Telescope showed clear signs of a tail, and if you look at the data from the Zwicky Transient feature, the tail appeared before June 11th.

Between July 8 and last August 14, the previous data was confirmed using new telescopes, where there was 248370, in the asteroid belt, an elegant tail was shown.

Measurements made by Hsieh and his team revealed that the comet nucleus – the tail-extended piece of rock – was about 3.2 km wide, last July it was 720,000 km long, but its width was only 1,400 km, and it was a very thin tail compared to the championship.

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Hsieh explained that “dust particles from this very thin tail nucleus do not float at very slow speeds, and the air flow out of the comet – usually raising dust from the comet into space – is very weak.”

“This slow speed usually makes it harder for dust to escape from the center’s gravity, and it suggests that something else may have helped the dust to escape. Will be required. “

The main asteroid belt is believed to have existed since the formation of the solar system (island)

Better understanding of the solar system

Additional observations will help to better understand the body, based on our understanding of the solar system, 248370 and other major belt comets should not be.

This is because the main asteroid belt is believed to have existed about 4.6 billion years before the formation of the solar system, which is between about 2.2 and 3.2 AU from the Sun, while the Solar System’s freezing line is cold enough to form ice in a vacuum beyond the point – about 5 AU. , So it is not clear why these important belt comets have enough ice to form a comet sublimation function.

In addition, these objects will help to understand a little about the earth. In the early days of the solar system, asteroid collisions that sustained water on Earth may have been one of the ways water was delivered to Earth. We can explore this as well.

In the long run, 248370 will be well positioned to keep track of during its next approach to Berge (Getty Images).

Great opportunity to keep track

“In the long run, 248370 September 3, 2026 will be a good place to keep track of UTC as it approaches Perigee,” say the researchers.

248370 Observations at this time are very valuable to further confirm the continuity of activity, documenting the orbital range in which activity occurs, measuring dust production rates and comparing the extent of physical activity from one orbit to another and its impact on other major belt comets. “

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The research was presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Department of Planetary Science at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on October 3-8. Printing “Archive(arXiv) Cornell University.

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Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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