NASA astronomers discover rare double asteroid

Dual Asteroids

The new observations obtained between June 21 and 26 indicate that the two objects, each about 900 meters in size, revolve around each other once every 20 to 24 hours, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.

According to NASA Morocco's Oukaimeden Sky Survey spotted the Near-Earth asteroid, YE5 on December 21, 2017 and provided the information to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA.

Current observations were made possible when 2017 YE5 came to within 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers) of Earth on June 21.

The reason the two objects rotate around each other in a stable configuration is because the barycenter - the center of mass within the two-body system - is located in between the two asteroids. This gave the opportunity to study it with radar at Goldstone and 305-metre dish of the radio telescope, "Arecibo", Puerto Rico.It turned out that the asteroid is bigger than previously thought.


YE5 is the fourth ever binary near-Earth asteroid observed where the two separate bodies do not touch.

Bi-static radar images of the binary asteroid 2017 YE5 from the Arecibo Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory on June 25. Equal-mass binaries like 2017 YE5 are much rarer. The combined radar and optical observations of YE5 may allow researchers to estimate the densities of the two objects, giving researchers a better understanding of their composition, internal structure and how they formed. Sometimes larger asteroids are orbited by much smaller rocks, but "equal mass" asteroid pairs are particularly special.

Aside from its nature as a binary system, other new details about this near-Earth object has also been revealed from its close fly-by past Earth. The confirmed sizes are larger than initial brightness observations speculated indicating the objects are not reflective and could, therefore, be as dark as charcoal. He is on the list of Potentially hazardous asteroids potentially hazardous to the life of our planet objects. Images taken by Goldstone on June 21 show a striking difference in radar reflectivity between the two objects, suggesting that they may have different densities, near-surface compositions, or different surface roughnesses.

The Goldstone observations were led by Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. In addition, NASA values the work of numerous highly skilled amateur astronomers, whose accurate observational data helps improve asteroid orbits after discovery. The observations, conducted on June 23, 2018, show two lobes, but do not yet show two separate objects.

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