Trojan asteroids share the same orbit with certain planets, either ahead of the planet or behind the planet. Jupiter is famous for many Trojan asteroids, but Mars also has a few. One of these Martian companions ̵1; the asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 – could be a stunt figure for our moon.
A team led by researchers at the Armagh Observatory and the Planetarium (AOP) in Northern Ireland has looked closely at the composition of the asteroid 101429 and drawn some fascinating connections with the neighbor. Our moon in a study published in January 2021 in the journal Icarus.
Planetary scientists used the X-shooter spectroscopy on the Southern European Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to see how sunlight bounced off the asteroid surface. They analyzed this data and compared it with other known space agencies.
Previous observations of the asteroid, which followed Mars in the same orbit, led the team to think that it might have similar composition to a common asteroid. Lead author Apostolos Christou said in an AOP statement on Tuesday: “To their surprise, they found that the spectrum was best suited not for other small objects but with the nearest neighbor. our moon ”.
Study co-author Galin Borisov with the AOP described the asteroid 101429 as “deadly to parts of the moon where it has exposed substrates like craters and mountains.”
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So what is the origin story of the asteroid? Researchers have proposed a number of options. It may actually resemble ordinary asteroids, but it has only been eroded by its space adventures over time.
It could be a piece of the moon. Christou described the debris-filled early solar system when the moon was hit by large asteroids: “A piece of debris from such an impact could have reached Mars’ orbit while the planet was still. is taking shape and trapped in its Troy clouds, “he said.
The third idea is that the asteroid was ejected from Mars through a similar collision scenario. Christou describes the concept as “perhaps more likely.”
The asteroid remains an unfinished mystery, but if the moon needs to stand still for a few days, we know who to call.