24/7 Space News
'Baby asteroid' just a toddler in space years, researchers say
illustration only
'Baby asteroid' just a toddler in space years, researchers say
by James Dean for Cornell Chronicle
Ithaca NY (SPX) May 03, 2024

An asteroid discovered last November is in fact a solar system toddler - just 2-3 million years old, a Cornell University-led research team estimates using novel statistical calculations.

The team derived the age of Selam, a "moonlet" circling the small asteroid Dinkinesh in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, based only on dynamics, or how the pair moves in space. Their calculation agrees with one by NASA's Lucy mission based on an analysis of surface craters, the more traditional method for dating asteroids.

The new method complements that work and has some advantages: It doesn't require an expensive spacecraft to capture close-up images; could be more accurate in cases where asteroid surfaces have undergone recent changes; and can be applied to the secondary bodies in dozens of other known binary systems, which account for 15% of near-Earth asteroids, the researchers said.

"Finding the ages of asteroids is important to understanding them, and this one is remarkably young when compared to the age of the solar system, meaning it formed somewhat recently," said Colby Merrill, a doctoral student in the field of aerospace engineering. "Obtaining the age of this one body can help us to understand the population as a whole."

Merrill is the first author of "Age of (152830) Dinkinesh-Selam Constrained by Secular Tidal-BYORP Theory," published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Merrill, a dynamics expert who was part of NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, was watching closely when the Lucy spacecraft flew by Dinkinesh on Nov. 1, 2023, and unexpectedly found Selam. The latter turned out to be "an extraordinarily unique and complex body," Merrill said - a so-called "contact binary" consisting of two lobes that are essentially rubble piles stuck together, and the first of its kind seen orbiting another asteroid.

Binary asteroids are dynamically complex and fascinating objects that are engaged in a sort of tug of war, the researchers said. Gravity acting on the objects causes them to physically bulge and results in tides, which slowly reduce the system's energy. Meanwhile, the sun's radiation also alters the binary system's energy with an effect termed the Binary Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (BYORP) effect. Eventually, the system will reach an equilibrium where tides and BYORP are equally strong - a stalemate in the tug of war.

Assuming those forces were in equilibrium and plugging in asteroid data shared publicly by the Lucy mission, the researchers calculated how long it would have taken for Selam to reach its current state after forming from surface material ejected by a rapidly spinning Dinkinesh. Along the way, the team said it improved upon preexisting equations that assumed both bodies were equally dense and ignored the secondary body's mass. Running roughly 1 million calculations with varying parameters, the results produced a median age for Selam of 3 million years old, with 2 million being the most likely result.

Researchers hope to apply their new aging method to other binary systems where dynamics have been well characterized, even without close flybys.

"Used in tandem with crater counting, this method could help better constrain a system's age," said Alexia Kubas, a doctoral student in the field of astronomy and space sciences and paper co-author. "If we use two methods and they agree with each other, we can be more confident that we're getting a meaningful age that describes the current state of the system."

Research Report:Age of (152830) Dinkinesh I Selam constrained by secular tidal-BYORP theory

Related Links
Cornell University
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Unveiling the space-weathered features of asteroid Ryugu
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Apr 30, 2024
New insights into the magnetic and physical environment of interplanetary space have been revealed through the analysis of asteroid Ryugu samples, retrieved by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft of the Japanese Space Agency. The research led by Professor Yuki Kimura of Hokkaido University, along with colleagues from 13 other Japanese institutions, is detailed in the journal Nature Communications. The team utilized electron holography, a technique involving electron waves to penetrate the samples, exposing t ... read more

Boeing Starliner crewed mission postponed to May 17

NASA Doubles Down, Advances 6 Innovative Tech Concepts to New Phase

Boeing's Starliner set for first crewed mission to ISS

Boeing's Starliner joins select club of crewed US spaceships

SpaceX Starlink flight lifts off in Florida; 2nd launch of day planned for California later

Long March 6C rocket joins fleet with successful inaugural launch

White Sands propulsion team evaluates 3D-printed engine component for Orion

SSC partners with Perigee Aerospace for satellite launches from Esrange

Mars agriculture simulations show promise and challenges

NASA launches commercial studies to facilitate Mars robotic science

Manganese discovery on Mars suggests ancient Earth-like conditions

NASA Scientists Gear Up for Solar Storms at Mars

International Support for China's Chang'e-6 Lunar Mission

Shenzhou XVII astronauts safely back from Tiangong space station

Shenzhou XVIII crew takes command at Tiangong space station

Shenzhou XVIII astronauts enter space station

South Australian space companies embark on growth mission with new UniSA program

Ovzon introduces two new satellite communication services based on Ovzon 3 technology

Rocket Lab Posts Strong First Quarter with Significant Revenue and Growth Projections

Inred and SES expand satellite internet coverage in Colombia's Amazonas

NASA Grants Licenses for Advanced 3D-Printable Superalloy to American Firms

Mu Space Secures Key Thai Government Approvals to Enhance Space Tech and Smart Electronics

Starfish Space and D-Orbit successfully conduct satellite rendezvous

EarthCARE satellite set for launch

A perfect tidal storm: HD 104067 planetary architecture creating an incandescent world

Evidence of atmosphere discovered on rocky exoplanet 55 Cancri e

Webb telescope's study suggests life on exoplanet remains unconfirmed

Ozone's influence on exoplanetary climate dynamics highlighted in new research

UAF scientist clarifies Jupiter's magnetospheric dynamics with new data

Webb telescope details weather patterns on distant exoplanet

Juno mission reveals volcanic landscapes on Io

Probing liquid water beyond Earth with advanced radar technology

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.