Discovered strange asteroid shaped ‘dog bone’

Kleopatra, also known as the “dog bone asteroid” with a two-lobed shape, is about 270km long. Astronomers have observed that this asteroid may be just a pile of rubble, likely formed from material accumulated after a giant collision.

“Kleopatra is truly the only celestial body in the Solar System. Science has made a lot of progress by studying strange outliers. I think Kleopatra is one of those celestial bodies. Understanding the complex system of many asteroids can help us understand more about the Solar System,” said Franck Marchis, astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View (USA) and at the Marseille astrophysics laboratory (USA). France), said.

Scientists first discovered the shape of Kleopatra’s dog bones about two decades ago. In 2008, Marchis and his colleagues discovered that Kleopatra has two moons orbiting, so they named it AlexHelios and CleoSelene – the name of the daughter of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

Researchers used the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) to observe the asteroid from 2017-2019. As the asteroid rotates, the telescope captures it from different angles for the researchers to calculate the asteroid’s length and volume.

The study results, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on September 9, also reveal the exact orbits for Kleopatra’s two moons. Astronomer Miroslav Brož, who led the study, calculated the mass of the asteroid and found that the asteroid was 35% lower than previous estimates.

The researchers found that the asteroid Kleopatra rotates very quickly. At this rotational speed, very small collisions can cause the asteroid to crumble, and this may be how Alexhelios and Cleoselene formed. Small collisions with other space debris may have sent small rocks off Kleopatra’s surface and accumulating into the asteroid’s two moons.

Astronomers hope to have more details about the asteroid in the coming years. In 2027, ESO will launch a new observatory called the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

“I can’t wait to observe Kleopatra with the ELT to see if the asteroid has more moons and refine their orbits to detect small changes,” Marchis said.

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