May 23, 2024

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Telescope detects path of massive debris from NASA’s Smash Up asteroid

Telescope detects path of massive debris from NASA's Smash Up asteroid

A bright beam of light shows a trace of debris from NASA's DART test.

Last week, NASA’s DART spacecraft deliberately crashed To Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos. Now, a telescope on Earth in Chile has photographed the massive plume resulting from the impact in the days after the encounter.

The accident was a planetary defense test. NASA is seeking to see if the kinetic collider can alter the trajectory of a space rock bound to Earth, should we spot a large rock on a collision course with us. space agency NEO Center It exists to monitor the state of these objects and their orbits.

NASA is still examining collision data to determine if the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, changed the orbital path of Demorphos around its larger companion, but Effect photos Coming dense and fast from all telescopic lenses turned towards the historical event.

The latest images come from the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in Chile, which is operated by NOIRLab. The SOAR telescope is located in the foothills of the Andes, an arid environment with clear skies and no light that makes the area ideal for ground-based telescopes.

expansion A trace of dust from the collision is clearly visible, extending to the right corner of the image. according to NOIRLab versionThe debris path extends about 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) from the point of impact. “It’s amazing how we were able to capture the structure and post-shock range in the days following the impact,” Teddy Caretta, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory who participated in the observation, said in the release.

NASA scientists have yet to come out with their determination that DART will succeed, but the effect is a success in itself. More results about the event will soon come: exactly how much material was ejected from Didymos, how much material was crushed, and how quickly it was kicked. The data could shed important light on the impact kinetic collisions might have on “ruble pile” asteroids, which Demorphos appears to have. Rubble-pile asteroids feature loose-knit assemblies of surface material, which could explain these dramatic post-collision views of the young moon.

Near Chile, there is Sky Survey of Vera C. Robin Observatory It will start soon. Among its charges is the assessment of potentially dangerous objects near Earth – although considering recent testing, perhaps asteroids should be concerned about us.

MORE: Ground-based telescopes capture jaw-dropping views of the DART asteroid impact

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