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Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyards



Amateurs Reshaping Asteroids from Their Backyard

Unistellar global network. Credit: SETI Institute

There are almost a million asteroids classified, but we don̵

7;t know much about them. Now, Unistellar and its scientific partner, the SETI Institute, can count on a network of nearly 3,000 amateurs capable of observing thousands of asteroids and providing estimates of the size and shape of them. With mobile stations located in Asia, North America and Europe, the Unistellar network, the largest network of citizen astronomers, is engaged in cutting-edge research and has produced the first scientific results. Includes 3-D shape models of one asteroid and the size of another.


“The Unistellar eVscope is not just a telescope. It is also a tool for accessing a network of houses,” said Franck Marchis, senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute and Chief Scientist. Citizen astronomy around the world. Employees at Unistellar. “Today, more than 150 people contribute to our campaigns and collect valuable scientific data from their backyards.”

In addition to the SETI Institute, Marchis’ team teamed up with Josef Hanuš and Josef Ďurech of the Institute of Astronomy at Charles University to identify potential targets of interest to asteroid populations. “After designing and validating our data analysis pipeline in 2020, we can now propose regular campaigns to our astronomers,” Marchis said.

Asteroid 943 Begonia: A paranormal event

Although it was discovered in October 1920, we do not know much about the size of the asteroid 943 Begonia. Inès Demuys, the Unistellar Engineer, has identified a paranormal event of Begonia. The paranormal is when a star temporarily disappears when an asteroid (or something else) passes in front of it. Two US citizen astronomers, based in Arizona and in New York, discovered the paranormal with their digital telescope (Unistellar’s digital telescope) in September. 2020. Analysis of the data they collect shows that the main-belt asteroid may be 83 km in diameter, making it 20% larger than previously known.

“The main difficulty with these kinds of observations is being in the right place and seeing at the right time,” said Marchis. “It takes time, good weather and a little luck. Fifty-three paranormal campaigns have been launched, resulting in 10 positive findings, but as the process matures over the coming weeks, the Positive results will actually happen more often Combined with increasing numbers therefore, we expect more and more accurate scientific results to come.

Asteroid 787 Moskva: Reversing light

Another way to study asteroids is to measure the variation in reflected light due to their irregular shape. “Despite the relatively small aperture size, the eVscope is strong enough to characterize about ~ 6,000 known asteroids in a year. SETI Institute Research Assistant Joé Asencio selected the rim asteroid.” main belt 787 Moscow, with an estimated diameter of 30 km We asked our network to observe it for over an hour in August 2020 and 7 astronomers from 4 different countries, USA, Finland, Switzerland and France have submitted their observations, “said Tom Esposito, an astronomer at SETI Institute and UC Berkeley.

The flux variation over time, also known as the light vortex, shows the rotation of the asteroid and confirms the rotation period of 6,056 hours. Combining these new observations with previous ones, the Charles University team found a new model of the asteroid’s shape, which is fairly long and 25-30 km in diameter.

“This observation confirms the use of eVscope for precise photometric studies, including displacement of alien planets, variable stars, supernovae and other transient events,” said Esposito. , dramatically increasing the number of possible investigations with the Unistellar network.

Driven by recent results, the team is adding a new program in eVscope’s education and networking. “Education is one of the foundations of SETI Institute’s work and philosophy,” said Simon Steel, Senior Director of STEM Education and Programs at SETI Institute. “Unistellar technology is a powerful tool for attracting and stimulating the next generation of astronomers, scientists and really anyone who has admired the beauty of the night sky.”

The findings will be presented at the American Astronomical Association’s 52nd Annual Meeting of Planetary Science.


The asteroid paranormal was first observed by eVscope


More information:
Session 413 Education and Community Participation 2 Presentation. 413.02 First Results with Small Digital & Smart Telescope Network: Citizen Science of Astronomy by Franck Marchis, SETI & Unistellar Institute on Thursday October 29th.

Provided by the SETI Institute

Quote: Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyards (2020, October 29) retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020 -10-citizen-astronomers-reshape-asteroids-backyard.html

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