Press "Enter" to skip to content

Can this asteroid the tiniest world? Some astronomers believe so

Last updated on December 21, 2019

The asteroid, called Hygeia, is your fourth-largest object orbiting from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, following the dwarf world Ceres as well as the asteroids Vesta and Pallas.

As it is a whole lot bigger compared to Vesta and Pallas, Hygeia was believed to possess an uneven shape like these instead of a round shape formed beneath the power of its own gravity, such as Earth and the other rocky planets. However, astronomers have discovered that Hygeia is around, and that its comparatively weak gravity is your reason.

The IAU reasoned a world is an object which orbits the sun, but isn’t a moon of another thing; it has cleared its own area in distance of smaller objects; also that it has sufficient mass because of its gravity to pull it into a round form. Since Pluto shares a number of its orbit along with different objects, such as the remote dwarf world Eris, the IAU downgraded into a dwarf world.

The decision means that the IAU believes the solar system to possess eight planets, rather than nine – despite the fact that it’s likely that more could exist.

Hygeia was initially viewed in 1849 as a moving place in a telescope. It is considered to have shaped into its existing form between 2 billion and 3 billion decades back, as it collided with another asteroid.

That wreck created one of the biggest asteroid families in the solar system, composed of nearly 7,000 asteroids which may be realized from the wavelengths of sunlight they reflect.

But rather than discovering evidence of an early impact, observations together with the European Very Large Telescope from the Atacama Desert in Chile revealed Hygeia was suddenly round – a result of the huge crash, when its fragments of stone behaved for some time such as a liquid.

“The parent body has been totally disrupted and then re-accreted to a roughly spherical figure,” said the lead writer, astronomer Pierre Vernazza of those Laboratoire d’Astrophysique p Marseille in France. “So the somewhat spherical shape is a result of the violence of this effect.”

The observations were able to ascertain a precise figure for the magnitude of Hygeia – a little less than 270 kilometers across. That is roughly the size of Alabama, and also a great deal smaller compared to the dwarf planets Ceres – nearly 600 miles around – and – Pluto, that can be nearly 1,500 miles around.

Both writers said they believe Hygeia should be thought of as a dwarf world.

“I really don’t believe it’s consequences for bigger objects, but instead for smaller ones,” Vernazza explained. “We can not exclude the future will show even smaller dwarf world candidates.”

“It hastens the official definition,” Bro┼ż explained. “Or we ought to enhance the definition, right?”

However, some other astronomers aren’t certain if Hygeia ought to be categorized as a dwarf world.

He explained the IAU designation was a compromise to conserve Pluto as some sort of world after astronomers found it had been just one of tens of thousands of Kuiper Belt objects from the outer solar system.

“They introduced roundness as a new standard,” Soter explained.