[meteorite-list] Elektra: A New Triple Asteroid

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:04:16 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201604290004.u3T04GY1016835_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Elektra: A New Triple Asteroid
April 25, 2016


Astronomers have discovered a new satellite orbiting the main belt asteroid
(130) Elektra - the smallest object visible in this image. The team,
led by Bin Yang (ESO, Santiago, Chile), imaged it using the extreme adaptive
optics instrument, SPHERE, installed on the Unit Telescope 3 of ESO's
Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile. This new, second moonlet
of (130) Elektra is about 2 kilometres across and has been provisionally
named S/2014 (130) 1, making (130) Elektra a triple system. Exploiting
the unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution of the instrument
SPHERE, the team also observed another triple asteroid system in the main
belt, (93) Minerva.

Asteroids are the relics of the building blocks that formed the terrestrial
planets in the early days of the Solar System. Studying asteroids with
multiple satellites is of crucial importance because their formation mechanisms
can provide information about planet formation and evolution that cannot
be revealed by other methods.

Using the data gathered with SPHERE the team inferred that both (130)
Elektra and (93) Minerva were created in an erosive impact. As a result
of the collision substantial chunks of matter can break away into space
to form small satellites of one of the original bodies. In this case the
small separation of the satellites from their larger parent asteroids,
the large mass ratios between the moonlets and the primaries and the same
composition between moonlets and primaries support this theory.
Received on Thu 28 Apr 2016 08:04:16 PM PDT

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