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 effectively. One among these Martian companions — asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 — could possibly be a stunt double for our personal moon.
A group led by researchers on the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) in Northern Eire took a detailed have 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 printed 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 group to assume it may need an analogous composition to a standard 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,” said lead author Apostolos Christou in an AOP statement on Tuesday.
Research co-author Galin Borisov with AOP described asteroid 101429 as a “dead-ringer for elements of the moon the place there’s uncovered bedrock akin 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 just like widespread meteorites in any case, nevertheless it’s simply been worn down by its house adventures over time.
It might presumably be a bit of the moon. Christou described the debris-filled early photo voltaic system again when the moon was getting smacked by massive asteroids: “A shard from such a collision might have reached the orbit of Mars when the planet was nonetheless forming and was trapped in its Trojan clouds,” he stated.
A 3rd thought is that the asteroid was knocked off of Mars by means of an analogous impression state of affairs. 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.