Observations made by using three of the world’s largest radio telescopes revealed that an asteroid discovered last year is actually two asteroids of about 900 meters in size and orbiting each other.
The initially discovered YES 2017 was first seen in December 2017 from data provided by the Morocco Oukaimeden Sky Survey, but until exact data about it was known according to NASA.
It is only the fourth case of ‘’equal mass’ ’near-Earth asteroid ever detected. According to the US national space agency, new observations dramatically increased the amount of data previously known about this type of binary asteroids. It was possible only because on 21st June 2017 YES made its closest approach to Earth for the next 170 years, at a distance of about 6 million kilometers, roughly fifteen times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
First observations that inferred the system could be in fact binary were made by NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar , with further analysis of available new data revealing that the system had high chances of being binary.
A team consisting of scientists from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and researchers at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia confirmed that 2017 YES was indeed binary system consisting of two separate entities. Radar imagery analysis proved that the two objects were significantly bigger that initial stations based on optical-brightness suggested, as the two rocks do not reflect the typical sunlight that a normal asteroid normally projects, leading scientists to believe that two rock maybe in fact as black as charcoal, a theory further encouraged by data from the Arecibo images. It is also believed that they may have different densities among other features
While binary asteroids of smaller sizes have been encountered before, in most cases there is a larger object and a much smaller satellite. The increased size makes 2017 YES even more remarkable.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca