NASA’s DART Asteroid Crash Seen by Very Large Telescope
Last fallNASA’s DART spacecraft shattered Dimorphos, a small asteroid about 7 million miles away in an unprecedented attempt to alter the orbit of a natural body in space. Now two teams of astronomers have released images the consequences of the collision taken by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory.
Researchers found that thThe asteroid’s ejected debris cloud appeared bluer than the space rock itself, suggesting that Dimorphos is composed of fine particles. But over time after the crash, the debris formed a tail and clumps that may have been made up of larger particles. both teams’ papers are published Today in the diary astronomy and astrophysics.
“This research capitalized on a unique opportunity when NASA struck an asteroid,” said Cyrielle Opitom, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh and lead author of one of the studies in an ESO release, “so it cannot be repeated by any future institution. This makes the data obtained with the VLT around the time of impact extremely valuable when it comes to better understanding the nature of asteroids.”
DART (short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test) was developed to test whether mankind can change the trajectory of an asteroid. The importance of the test cannot be underestimated as a space rock coming our way could cause mass death and destruction. DART proved that when such an asteroid appearshumanity has the means to change its course.
Four 27-foot (8.2-meter) telescopes that make up ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured the aftermath of the planetary defense mission. A bright light in the center of the images is Dimorphos, while the glowing rays spreading from it are debris from the collision.
The images were taken between September 26, 2022 (the date of impact) and October 25, 2022. The streaks of light visible in the background are due to the apparent motion of the background stars.
“When we observe the objects in our solar system, we look at the sunlight that is scattered from their surface or atmosphere and becomes partially polarized,” said Stefano Bagnulo, an astronomer at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in the UK and lead author of one of the studiesin an ESO release.
“Tracking how the polarization changes with the asteroid’s orientation relative to us and the Sun reveals the structure and composition of its surface,” Bagnulo added.
DART took about 10 months to tow the nearly 7 Millions of miles from Earth to Dimorphos, which is in a binary system with another asteroid, Didymos. Even if it sounds pretty far 7 million miles is a long distance for telescopic observation.
Before today’s impact shots, the The Italian-built LICIACube was released nearby Pictures from the first impact, as well as the Hubble and Webb space telescopes. Image taken by the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope in Chile, operated by NOIRLab Images of the 6,000-mile debris trail from the impact. The Virtual Telescope Project, the Klein Karoo Observatory in South Africa, the South African Astronomical Observatory and the The ATLAS project also turned its attention to the scene.
The images captured by so many different observatories will help scientists understand in detail the success of the DART missionl. Besides learning more about the composition of asteroids like Dimorphos, scientists have a better idea of how to react when an asteroid of all time appears to be earthbound.
More: The most intriguing images from DART’s fatal asteroid encounter
https://gizmodo.com/dart-asteroid-aftermath-very-large-telescope-nasa-1850247096 NASA’s DART Asteroid Crash Seen by Very Large Telescope