Researchers found rare binary asteroids using radar & optical observatories

Asteroid 2017 YE5 is the fourth near-Earth binary object that zoomed past Earth last month with an estimated size taller than the height of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Back in 2017, the object was first discovered as a single object but a recent observation revealed that it’s actually a binary asteroid revolving around each other while orbiting around the sun.

According to the reports, researchers used three different radio telescopes around the globe to shoot beams to this asteroid after it came close to the Earth at a distance of just 3.7 million miles which is the closest it could get to the Earth. Earlier, researchers noticed that this asteroid had two lobes of a single rock but a close investigation of the data captured by the three radio telescopes painted a surprising picture of the Asteroid 2017 YE5.

Researchers found rare binary asteroids using telescopes

After analyzing the data, they found that Asteroid 2017 YE5 are actually two objects roughly the same size that revolve around each other once every 20 to 24 hours. This is a rare occurrence where both the objects in a binary system is of the same size since most of these objects are either irregular shaped or where one object is larger than other. They also found out that both these objects aren’t reflecting sunlight as much as a typical rocky asteroid would reflect and thus, they deduced that it is likely a charcoal dark colored object.

When researchers analyzed the photos captured by Arecibo and Goldstone observatories, they found a huge difference in the radar reflectivity of these two objects which means that both these objects might have different textures, compositions, different surface roughness, densities, and color composition, etc along with the assumption that both these objects might have formed from different materials.

The researchers are studying the optical and radar data gathered to determine the density of the object and to learn more about the formation, internal structure, and other details. This binary pair asteroid hurtled close towards the Earth at the closest distance of 3.7 million miles last month. The planet will follow its eccentric orbit and it would take at least 170 years for the asteroid to come close to our planet.

Lou Kerner
Lou is a New York-based science blogger and columnist, working in the Science Journalism industry for the last five and half years. He spends most of her time interacting with the like-minded group of people on social media and contributing proactively to several online discussion forums and websites. You can contact him at lou@tecake.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. The given article is very informative. It was about a recent event. The asteroid trajectory is not yet clear but it helped me a lot to know about binary asteroid system.

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