On September 26, 2022, NASA crashes the DART spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos in the first test of Earth defense.
The collision was successful in redirecting Dimorphos slightly. But now astronomers have discovered that it also dropped 37 rocks, which are currently flying through space at a speed of 21,000 km/h, according to reports. Wire,
The size of these rocks, discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, ranges from 0.9 to 6.7 meters. Astronomers believe that these are not asteroid debris, but strewn across the surface and dislodged by collisions with the DART spacecraft.
A close-up image taken by DART just 2 seconds before impact shows several rocks of similar size and shape lying on Dimorphos’ surface.
Experts say the incident shows that the asteroid deflection strategy could have unintended consequences and could potentially lead to smaller rocks hitting Earth.
“This group of rocks is like a bunch of shrapnel fired from a hand grenade,” said David Javitt, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Because those big rocks basically share the motion of the asteroid.”
He said that in a typical impact at high speed, a 4.5 meter rock hitting the Earth would deliver the same amount of energy as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) during World War II.
The Dimorphos is shaped like the Great Pyramid of Giza. This asteroid was chosen for the diversion test because it poses little threat to Earth.
Technically, Dimorphos is classified as potentially hazardous, but it is still 9.6 million kilometers from Earth and is unlikely to pose a threat in the near future.
However, experts have warned that if a piece of rock from this asteroid is deflected in the future and reaches Earth, it will cause “enormous damage”.
This study was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters,