Questions tagged [asteroids]

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

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8
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2answers
445 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 ...
3
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1answer
117 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 ...
7
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1answer
223 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 ...
11
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2answers
684 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 ...
18
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3answers
4k 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?...
20
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3answers
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 ...
10
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1answer
358 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 ...
5
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1answer
276 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?
1
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1answer
137 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 ...
75
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2answers
14k 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 ...
27
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5answers
5k 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?
18
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3answers
241 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 ...
10
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1answer
466 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 ...
7
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1answer
291 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 ...
5
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3answers
714 views

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

I'm curios 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 ...
5
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1answer
141 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 ...
4
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1answer
189 views

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

This answer 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 speculate that if the Hubble Space ...
3
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1answer
3k 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?
13
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2answers
560 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 ...
8
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1answer
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 ...
5
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1answer
475 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 ...
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2answers
1k 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), ...
3
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1answer
96 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 ...
3
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1answer
130 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 ...
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3answers
146 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 ...
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2answers
131 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.
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1answer
212 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}) -\...
10
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1answer
267 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 ...
10
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3answers
4k 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 ...
11
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1answer
769 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 ...
7
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2answers
179 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 ...
5
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2answers
270 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 ...
5
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1answer
131 views

Where have all the Vulcanoids gone?

This answer to Does anything orbit the Sun faster than Mercury? explains that while Vulcanoid asteroids may have been plentiful in the past, large ones have currently been ruled out though smaller ...
9
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4answers
15k 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?
9
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1answer
576 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). ...
7
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1answer
503 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 ...
6
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1answer
7k 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://...
4
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2answers
2k views

Collision of asteroid and gaseous planet - what would happen

What happens when asteroids (or other small bodies) "collide" with a gas planet? In my head it would either go through it or just stay "inside" it due to the strong gravity. I tend to believe in the ...
2
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1answer
85 views

Rendering asteroid orientation as seen from Earth

I am writing a program to render an asteroid as seen from various parts of the solar system. My goal is to roughly reproduce the image of Cacus according to information on its DAMIT detail page. ...
2
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1answer
85 views

What star was the asteroid 2014 MU69 predicted to occult on 2018-08-04?

From a search, I found a list of some preparatory HST observations made for the August 4, 2018 occultation of a star by the asteroid 2014 MU69 We propose observations in support of the upcoming New ...
20
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3answers
4k 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 ...
15
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2answers
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 ...
7
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1answer
172 views

Would bagging an asteroid destroy valuable science about it?

NASA has a plan called "Asteroid Redirect Mission option A". It would robotically put an asteroid of a few meters diameter in a bag and push it into reach of astronauts for thorough examination. 44 ...
5
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0answers
78 views

What's the number density of `Oumuamua like objects?

Recently, the fly-through the Solar system of the inter-stellar object (ISO) `Oumuamua caused quite a stir in the astronomy community. I wonder whether there are reliable estimates for the (local) ...
5
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2answers
150 views

Which kind of strategy should we take to discover Planet 9 and other KBOs?

What are the differences between the discoveries of Sedna, 2012vp 113, and the supposed Planet 9? All need deep infrared surveys at the ecliptic plane, but P9 needs a much deeper survey?
5
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1answer
662 views

How often do meteorites hit the Earth?

I heard of one that occurred in 2008 in the Nubian Desert in Sudan, how often does it happen? Is there a catalogue of all hits or are they very rare? Related link (This is what inspired my interest ...
4
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2answers
293 views

How did astronomers determine the path of 'Oumuamua so quickly?

The interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua was discovered on October 19, 2017. Once discovered, less than a month's worth of precovery observations were found on various sky surveys. By mid-November, ...
4
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1answer
148 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" ...
4
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1answer
123 views

What is the closest an asteroid or comet has passed the Sun and survived?

After SOHO began watching the Sun from space with its coronagraphs 24/7 it was discovered that there are comets passing very close to the Sun quite regularly, and while some are destroyed, some are ...
4
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3answers
244 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 ...