December 7, 2022

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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 huge plume that resulted from the impact in the days after the encounter.

The accident was a planetary defense test. NASA is trying to see if the kinetic collider can change the trajectory of a space rock on its way to Earth, if we see a large rock on a collision path 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 photo effect Approach and velocity from all telescopic lenses that focus on 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 devoid of light, making the area ideal for ground-based telescopes.

extension A trace of dust from the collision can be clearly seen, extending to the right corner of the image. to me NOIRLab versionThe debris path extends approximately 10,000 km from the point of impact. “It’s amazing how we were able to capture the structure and range after the impact in the days after the impact,” Teddy Caretta, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory who was involved in the observation, said of the launch.

NASA scientists have yet to determine their determination that DART will succeed, but the effect itself is success. More results on the event coming soon: exactly how much material was taken out of Didymos, how much material was crushed and how fast to pedal. The data could shed important light on the effect of kinetic collisions on the “ruble pile” asteroids that Demorphos appears to have. Rubble asteroids contain loose compositions of surface material, which could explain these dramatic images of the young moon after the collision.

Near Chile there Scanning the sky from the Vera C. Robin Observatory It will start soon. One such fee is the assessment of potentially dangerous objects near Earth – although we’re considering recent tests, asteroids may worry us.

MORE: Ground-based telescopes capture breathtaking images of the DART asteroid impact

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