Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientist searches for moons around asteroids

Date:
October 7, 2011
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Most people know that some planets have moons but would be surprised to know that some asteroids do, too. According to new research, about 20 percent of them do.

Most people know that some planets have moons but would be surprised to know that some asteroids do, too. According to Joshua Emery, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, about 20 percent of them do.

Emery is part of an international team of planetary astronomers, led by Franck Marchis of the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., searching for moons around asteroids. The discovery of moons around asteroids is important because it can provide clues to the asteroid's formation.

Emery and his team's research has focused on the triple asteroid Minerva, the fourth asteroid located in the main-belt -- which houses most of the solar system's asteroids -- known to possess two moons.

"Minerva was thought to be a pretty typical, unremarkable asteroid until we discovered its two moons," said Emery. "Now, interest in this system has grown, and through a lot of new observations from both ground-based and space-based telescopes, we have developed a much more detailed understanding of Minerva and its moons."

The team studied the asteroid in detail using the large W.M. Keck telescope in Hawaii and a small robotic telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. By piecing together old and new observations, the astronomers were able to make precise determinations of the moons' orbits. With shape, size, and mass in hand, the scientists then derived the asteroid's density -- determining that Minerva is different than the other large asteroids in the main-belt.

"All other large main-belt asteroids with one or more moons are very porous," said Emery. "Such high porosity strongly suggests that they are piles of rubble held together by gravity rather than solid rocks. Imagine an asteroid being completely blasted apart in a collision, then the pieces coalescing back together--this is how we think most of these large, multiple asteroid systems form. From these glimpses into the interior structure of asteroids, we gain insight not only into the history and formation of multiple asteroid systems, but also the structure and origin of asteroids in general."

The results of the group's findings were released at the EPSC-DPS meeting in Nantes, France. Other members of the international team of planetary astronomers are J.E. Enriquez, of Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, Calif.; P. Descamps, J. Berthier, and F. Vachier of the Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides, France; J. Durech of Charles University, Prague, Czech republic; P. Dalba, UC Berkeley, Calif.; A.W. Harris of DLR, Berlin, Germany; J. Melbourne of Caltech, Pasadena, Calif.; A.N. Stockton and T.J. Dupuy of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu; and C.D. Fassnacht of the University of California at Davis, Calif.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Scientist searches for moons around asteroids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111007102146.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2011, October 7). Scientist searches for moons around asteroids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111007102146.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Scientist searches for moons around asteroids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111007102146.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
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