Home Technology Astronomers study different type of asteroid

Astronomers study different type of asteroid


First discovered in 2019, the asteroid called 2019 LD2 caught the attention of scientists when the Earth’s Asteroid Impact Alert System (Atlas), located in Hawaii, detected a weak and new signal that appeared to come from the “Jupiter Trojans “. When studying the celestial body closely, astronomers noticed some features in it that assimilated it to a comet.

At the time, these studies had to be suspended when the asteroids moved around a lot and could no longer be observed. However, with the resurgence it was possible to resume studies

Normally, or at least that is known today, comets have long orbits and are loaded with ice which, when approaching the sun, sublimate and form a halo and a mist. Asteroids, on the other hand, are generally purely rock structures, dry and inert, with orbits in the solar system, similar to planets.

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And this is where 2019 LD2 differs from the definitions of comet or asteroid, or rather, this is what it resembles the two, which makes it quite peculiar. It has a comet-like tail, but has a comet-like orbit. This, while quite unusual, is not entirely unknown. Astronomers call this type of asteroid – which has comet characteristics, such as sublimation and gas emission – Active Asteroids.

But the fact that most intrigues scientists is not necessarily the structure, or appearance, of the 2019 LD2, but the place where it was found.

The object shares its orbit with Jupiter, in a cluster of asteroids known as the Trojans of Jupiter, and is the first among those bodies that release gases, as does a comet.

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Asteroids orbiting Jupiter are believed to have appeared about four billion years ago, when scientists believe the planets in the Solar System were migrating to their current position. If 2019 LD2 has already shared space with them since then, any ice present in its structure was supposed to have melted, which did not happen.

“We believe that asteroids must have large amounts of ice under their surfaces, but we have never had any evidence until now,” said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland.

What astronomers imagine is that the asteroid may have hit another rocky body and, on impact, it may have disintegrated a part and exposed the inner ice sheet, which is now beginning to sublimate.

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Another possibility is that 2019 LD2 recently joined Jupiter, coming from a place far enough away for the ice to remain on its surface.

At the moment, astronomers do not have the concrete answers to these hypotheses, but it may be that in the future some more facts about it will be discovered. That’s because, next year, NASA will launch the Lucy probe, the first to visit the “Jupiter Trojans”. The asteroid is not on the spacecraft’s visitation schedule, but it may be possible to capture some overflying observations as the probe passes through the asteroid.

Another recent study is by American scientists, which raises speculation about the mysterious Planet Nine.

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