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Waspie_Dwarf

The Anatomy of an Asteroid

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The Anatomy of an Asteroid

ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid’s formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.

Using very precise ground-based observations, Stephen Lowry (University of Kent, UK) and colleagues have measured the speed at which the near-Earth asteroid (25143) Itokawa spins and how that spin rate is changing over time. They have combined these delicate observations with new theoretical work on how asteroids radiate heat.

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Artist's impression of asteroid (25143) Itokawa

This artist,s impression, based on detailed spacecraft observations, shows the strange peanut-shaped asteroid Itokawa. By making exquisitely precise timing measurements using ESO's New Technology Telescope a team of astronomers has found that different parts of this asteroid have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid's formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.

Credit: JAXA, ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org).

Source: ESO Observatory

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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Artist's impression of asteroid (25143) Itokawa

This artist's impression, based on detailed spacecraft observations, shows the strange peanut-shaped asteroid Itokawa. By making exquisitely precise timing measurements using ESO's New Technology Telescope a team of astronomers has found that different parts of this asteroid have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid's formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.

Credit: JAXA, ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org).

Source: ESO Observatory

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Yep, some asteroids are considered to be "rock piles" or loose conglomerations of smaller objects.

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