Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers Find New Class Of Asteroid

Date:
July 6, 1998
Source:
University Of Hawaii
Summary:
University of Hawaii astronomers have discovered a new type of asteroid, whose orbits lie completely within the orbit of the Earth. If such an asteroid's orbit around the Sun intersects with the Earth's orbit, it could hit the Earth and we would have never seen it coming, says a University of Hawaii astronomer.

University of Hawaii astronomers have discovered a new type of asteroid, whose orbits lie completely within the orbit of the Earth.

Related Articles


Previously, all known asteroids traveled in an orbit farther from the Sun than the Earth, over at least a portion of their journey.

"All other efforts to discover asteroids on a collision course with the Earth are being directed at a region of the sky almost opposite the Sun," said David Tholen, planetary astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy.

"The significance of this discovery is that we would have otherwise never found this new asteroid because it apparently doesn't travel to that region of the sky being scanned by other search efforts."

If such an asteroid's orbit around the Sun intersects with the Earth's orbit, it could hit the Earth and we would have never seen it coming, said Tholen. We would have been caught unaware by an asteroid approaching us from the daytime side of the sky, he said.

Tholen and graduate student Robert Whiteley made the observation using a specialized camera fitted on the University of Hawaii's 2.24-meter telescope atop Mauna Kea last February.

While scanning the dusk and dawn skies to assess the size and number of asteroids within the Earth's orbit, Whiteley spotted the object, since designated 1998 DK36, on his computer screen, shortly after Tholen had recorded the images at Mauna Kea Observatory and sent them to Whiteley's computer via the Internet.

Additional observations made the following night made it possible to compute a preliminary orbit of the object around the Sun. Tholen said the exact size and shape of the asteroid orbit remain uncertain. However, the orbit's farthest point from the Sun could be determined relatively accurately, and it appears to be very close to, but slightly inside the orbit of the Earth.

The asteroid is thought to be about 40 meters in diameter, similar in size to the one that flattened the Tunguska region of Siberia on June 30, 1908, as well as the iron object that produced Meteor Crater in Arizona 50,000 years ago.

Could it collide with the Earth?

"We were unable to obtain enough observations to perform a formal probability calculation, though the best-fitting orbit has the object passing an apparently safe 750,000 miles from the Earth's orbit," said Tholen. "To do a better job with such discoveries, we really need to have a telescope that we can dedicate to such difficult observations."

"1998 DK36 is nothing to lose sleep over," said Tholen. "It's the ones we haven't found yet that are of concern."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Hawaii. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Hawaii. "Astronomers Find New Class Of Asteroid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706081452.htm>.
University Of Hawaii. (1998, July 6). Astronomers Find New Class Of Asteroid. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706081452.htm
University Of Hawaii. "Astronomers Find New Class Of Asteroid." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706081452.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz rocket delivers a multi-national trio to the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins