Questions tagged [asteroids]

Questions regarding relatively small rocky bodies in an orbit around the Sun.

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9 votes
2 answers
579 views

Do astronomers generally agree that the distinction between comets and asteroids is not so clear?

edit: I just saw this tweet and find it incredibly relevant :) begin question: See this answer and then consider if there are known or likely solar system bodies that might be identified as both ...
uhoh's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
182 views

What is the physical geometry of this apparent "eclipse" of a tiny moon of Asteroid Florence?

Below is a small GIF made from a small subset of images contained in the original 36MB GIF found at https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/images/news/florence.p5us.1Hz.s382.sep01.gif as I just found in the Sky ...
uhoh's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
623 views

Why are asteroids with zero orbital inclination rare?

This is a plot of orbital inclination ($i_p$) vs. semi-major axis ($a_p$) of 96944 asteroids in the Main Belt, done by Piotr Deuar. Some structure can be seen in this diagram; clumps are asteroidal ...
Swike's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
293 views

Is 486958 Arrokoth (2014 MU69 aka Ultima Thule) the only solar-system object determined to be binary by occultation?

The asteroid 486958 Arrokoth was discovered to be binary by astronomers lugging a bunch of telescopes around (I think) camping with them. The timing offered additional astrometry for the orbit ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
746 views

Good source for the relationship between absolute magnitude, diameter, and albedo?

In this answer I have rearranged an equation from somewhere, and now I can not relocate the source. My re-aranged form is: $$M_{Abs} = 5 \left(\log_{10}(1329) -\frac{1}{2}\log_{10}(\text{albedo}) -\...
uhoh's user avatar
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30 votes
5 answers
12k views

How early could we detect an asteroid the size of the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs?

Would we know months, years ahead? How sophisticated is our technology's ability to detect it at 100% accuracy?
CupOfGreenTea's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why did the distribution of asteroids discovered in 2010 have a radial modulation?

This answer links to one of Scott Manley's excellent asteroid videos Asteroid Discovery - 1970-2015 - 8K resolution. The animation highlights the positions of the meteors at the moment of their ...
uhoh's user avatar
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18 votes
3 answers
5k views

What is the difference between asteroids, comets and meteors?

Some celestial objects seem to be referred to as asteroids, some as comets, and some as meteors or meteorites. What is the distinction between all of these different objects? Are any of them the same?...
user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

How was Earth's "quasi-satellite" 2016 HO3 "first spotted" and it's orbit determined?

Under a question I asked a few days ago Have there been any documented mini-moons since 2006 RH120? @Hobbes mentioned the recent news about 2016 HO3 - a near-Earth asteroid that stays near Earth ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
350 views

Has Hubble ever been used to try to image a near Earth asteroid?

This answer to How big will Apophis appear? points out that the near Earth asteroid Apophis will likely be close to 2 arcseconds in diameter as seen from Earth during its close approach in 2029. I ...
uhoh's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
508 views

What's the reason for the hollow region in Oort cloud?

Can someone please tell what caused the hollow space (pointed by yellow arrow) in the Oort Cloud? I understand that it is called cloud because the cluster of objects does not align with the major ...
Kevv Keka's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
6k views

How loud was the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs?

Asteroid impacts on the Earth can be very loud when they break up in the atmosphere, like Chelyabinsk, captured in this video: The Chelyabinsk asteroid break-up was ...
Connor Garcia's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
542 views

Could asteroid 'Oumuamua actually be round?

News articles have mentioned that the recently discovered asteroid 'Oumuamua is theorized to be greatly elongated based on observations of brightness variation. However, this hypothesis seems to be ...
user2127894's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
448 views

Is this object an asteroid or comet, and how can it produce so many tails?

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope Science Release HEIC 1320 - When is a Comet not a Comet? - Hubble astronomers observe bizarre six-tailed asteroid is self-explanatory, but it doesn't explain what ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
484 views

How big will Apophis appear?

How big will Apophis appear in the sky at its closest point of approach in 2029? Will it compare to the moon? How long will it linger as it passes?
Anthony McCloskey's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
319 views

What is the YORP effect exactly? Is it just the non-central component of the Yarkovsky effect?

This answer to Where have all the Vulcanoids gone? links to the aptly-titled The YORP Effect Can Efficiently Destroy 100 Kilometer Planetesimals At The Inner Edge Of The Solar System which says in ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
338 views

How did Biden become VP? (naming of 2012 VP113)

The Carnegie Science article Solar System's Edge Redefined describes the discovery of the object 2012 VP113. Wikipedia's article 2012 VP113 says: Nickname: 2012 VP113 was abbreviated "VP" ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
265 views

Are there any known asteroids with average density similar to that of Earth's?

In this answer I mention that for very low orbits around spherical bodies, the period tends to scale only as the inverse square root of the density, and not the diameter. For a low orbits where the ...
uhoh's user avatar
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85 votes
2 answers
19k views

Could the dinosaurs have seen the asteroid that killed them?

Wikipedia says the Chicxulub impactor is thought to have been a 10-15 km diameter object. Would it have been visible to a (human*) naked eye before impact? And if so, would it have appeared like a ...
Robert's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
720 views

What is the difference between the Yarkovsky effect and YORP effect?

As far as I understand, both the Yarkovsky effect and the Yarkovsky–O'Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack (YORP) effect exert forces upon bodies as a result of thermal photon radiation. How do both effects ...
Nick Silvestri's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
5k views

Does Jupiter help to protect the Earth against comets/asteroids impacts?

Does Jupiter help to protect the Earth against comets or asteroids impacts? Some astronomers believe that one reason Earth is habitable is that the gravity of Jupiter does help protect us from some ...
gilbertohasnofb's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
127 views
+200

First satellite of an asteroid (or double asteroid) ever imaged by delay-Doppler radar?

In comments about my previous bounty on the Space SE question Which deep-space spacecraft flew closest by Earth during a gravitational assist?, I started to look at the Galileo mission and ran across ...
uhoh's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
441 views

Where do rocks come from?

Consider a loose pile of rocks in an early solar system, say a tiny asteroid. As it accretes more and more material, the pressure at its center eventually becomes great enough to collapse the gaps ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
614 views

Where might astrometric observations of the Roadster spacecraft be catalogued?

above: (see small red lines near center of image) Tesla Roadster. 18 Feb. 2018, 11:28 UT. The image above comes from the average of ten, 300-seconds exposures, remotely taken with the 16”-f/3.75 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
316 views

Which measurements have shown that 2014 MU69 is red? (New Horizons' next target)

The recent NASA feature article New Horizons: Possible Clouds on Pluto, Next Target is Reddish MU69 is actually the smallest KBO to have its color measured – and scientists have used that data to ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
314 views

How would a small TCO (temporarily captured orbiter) or other natural Earth satellite most likely be detected?

A sentence from the abstract of The population of natural Earth satellites states: At any given time there should be at least one NES of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth. The average temporarily-...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is there a way to tell the difference between earth andesite from Mars

I'm curious if there is a way to test if this sample might be Martian andesite. What type of oxygen isotope (or other) test can be done to address this in some way? As background, any information ...
Rob biddle's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
182 views

Could stellar occultations be used to survey Kuiper belt objects?

The first hint we had as to the shape of Ultima Thule was via an occultation study using an array of small telescopes. Has anyone investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of conducting a survey ...
BCS's user avatar
  • 253
4 votes
2 answers
3k views

Could an asteroid knock the moon out of its orbit?

As describe in this CNN article, an asteroid is going to pass near the Earth on Halloween. The article says that As it misses Earth by about 300,000 miles (slightly farther away than the moon), ...
DCShannon's user avatar
  • 143
4 votes
3 answers
248 views

What causes these asteroid trails to be so strangely shaped and repeated?

The Phys.org news item Hubble is the ultimate multitasker: Discovering asteroids while it's doing other observations includes the image below. What causes these asteroid trails to be so strangely ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
4k views

How is the path of an asteroid calculated?

How do scientists and astronomers recognize the perfect path or orbit (if it's orbiting an object) of an asteroid or a comet?
Devgeet Patel's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
105 views

Temporary family member 2020-CD3

So, recently I came to know that this asteroid is orbiting Earth from past 3 years and still it is orbiting. It is kind of a mini Moon to the Earth know to have come from asteroid-belt. Is there ...
Ubi.B's user avatar
  • 221
2 votes
2 answers
150 views

What measures are currently in place to detect asteroids on possible collision courses with earth?

I know some measures must exist, but I have no idea what the programs are, what organizations are involved, or how effective they are.
Pulchritude's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
189 views

When thermal infrared space telescopes spot asteroids, are they seeing the body's own thermal emission, or reflected TIR from the Sun?

From the Space SE question Why has the Earth-Sun libration point L1 been chosen over L2 for NEOCam to detect new NEOs?: above: Profoundly not-to-scale illustration of NEOCam in an orbit around the ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
130 views

Which observatories help NASA find 5 new asteroids per day?

I just read the following in the NPR website news article NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid. NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a ...
uhoh's user avatar
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27 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why did they decide to hit Dimorphos in the retrograde direction rather than prograde; was it a "coin-toss" or were there implications for observing?

CNN Space and Defense Correspondent Kristin Fisher does a really good job of summarizing the current state of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test early observational results for general public ...
uhoh's user avatar
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22 votes
4 answers
5k views

Does anything orbit the Sun faster than Mercury?

Mercury's orbital period around the Sun is about 88 days. Comets and other things have gotten closer to the Sun than Mercury does. But has there ever been an asteroid or some other body discovered ...
Connor Garcia's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

What caused this mysterious stellar occultation on July 10, 2017 from something ~100 km away from 486958 Arrokoth?

In 2017 a series of stellar occultations by asteroid 2014 MU69 "Ultima Thule" now officially named 486958 Arrokoth were timed in order to obtain better orbital information before the New ...
uhoh's user avatar
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11 votes
5 answers
20k views

Do asteroids have a gravitational field?

I know that asteroids are huge chunks of rock, orbiting a solar system. Do asteroids have a gravitational field and do they gravitationally attract each other to form planets?
Austin Phillips's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
837 views

Opportunities to see a near earth object via unaided eyes or binoculars?

I would like to see a near earth object proper with my eyes or binoculars someday. Has this been possible recently? Are there any upcoming potential opportunities to do so in say the next 20 or 50 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
320 views

Detecting Deep Impact

There have been several accounts in media articles of asteroid near misses, many describe that the asteroid was not seen before the near miss. After reading the question and answer to How can we tell ...
user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
5k views

How well would the Moon protect the Earth from an Asteroid?

Would the Earth fare better if the Moon blocked the meteor, comet, rogue planet, or otherwise rather than a direct impact? At what point would the Moon's debris would be an extinction event? The ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
10 votes
3 answers
6k views

If an Asteroid was to strike the Earth, would it affect the Earth's rotation?

If an Asteroid was to strike the Earth, would it affect noticeably the Earth's rotation, and if so, how large would this Asteroid have to be?
Jonathan Scialpi's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
844 views

Orbits of Trojan Asteroids

I understand that the Trojan points are located 60 degrees ahead and behind a planet in its orbit. However, since there are quite a number of Trojans in Jupiter's orbit, they cannot all be exactly at ...
Mike Stone's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
903 views

How is the total mass of all the Solar System's small asteroids and meteoroids estimated?

This diagram from wikipedia (shown below) graphs asteroid Diameter against Number of asteroids, for the Solar System. (Graphic is courtesy of the Marco Colombo, DensityDesign Research Lab). ...
steveOw's user avatar
  • 1,444
9 votes
3 answers
460 views

Asteroids conjunction

I am currently writing a C++ program to show asteroids in 3D, and find close approaches or collisions. I got my orbital elements from JPL https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb_query.cgi. So far so good, with ...
Tiblemont's user avatar
  • 399
7 votes
1 answer
731 views

How can we tell if the asteroid 2013 TV135 will hit Earth in 2032?

Some astronomers in Ukraine have estimated that there is a small likelihood (1 in 63,000) that the asteroid 2013 TV135 will strike Earth in 2032. (source) Don Yeoman of NASA JPL says: with more ...
called2voyage's user avatar
  • 6,322
7 votes
1 answer
10k views

If an asteroid was to collide with Earth, how much warning would we have?

I was talking to my 9-year-old son about the Florence asteroid that is passing close to the earth. He wanted to view youtube videos about that asteroids, and we saw the starting of this one https://...
Mika Ike's user avatar
  • 173
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Will 3,600ft asteroid be visible at my location tonight?

According to NASA, a 1.1-kilometer asteroid called 7482 (1994 PC1) will be visible tonight at 5:50PM. How do I know if this asteroid will be visible at my location with the naked eye? When NASA says 5:...
rbhat's user avatar
  • 401
7 votes
2 answers
366 views

Can the Gaia telescope detect small temporarily captured asteroids near its Lagrange orbit?

The Gaia space telescope is in a Lissajous orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2. The orbit period is about 180 days and the size of the orbit is 263,000 x 707,000 x 370,000 km. It has been ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
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