Strange Blue Asteroid Spotted by Researchers

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While ‘’once in a blue moon’’ is a well-known expression, astronomers have managed to find a blue asteroid. You read that right.

A team of researchers has announced a landmark moment as they managed to capture images of a strange blue asteroid. The asteroid has been named Phaethon.

Blue asteroids are very rare, as only a few have been documented until now. The majority of asteroids tend to be colored in grey or red, depending on the minerals encountered on their surface.

What makes Phaethon even more important is the fact that it also features traits specific to a comet, making it a hybrid celestial body.

Phaeton was first discovered back in 1983, when the asteroid was spotted for the first time. Researchers first believed that it was a dead comet, due to its unusual color. Even then, they had some doubts as comets are usually red.

The astronomers captured the shots last year, as Phaeton made its closest approach to Earth since 1974, at a distance of 6.4 million miles. Astronomers around the world were fascinated by the asteroid, as they discussed its elusive origin.

It is generally thought that the Geminid meteor shower, an annual event that happens each December, may also be caused by Phaeton.

NASA has acknowledged that the asteroid remains a mystery  since it is very heard to determine if it is a dead comet, an asteroid, or a potentially new type of object that is called ‘’rock comet.’’

The rock comet theory is encouraged by the highly elliptical orbit around the Sun, yet Phaeton doesn’t develop the traditional comet tail as passes by, and spectrographic analysis suggests that it is an asteroid.

Some researchers believed that Phaeton could have been a part of a larger asteroid known as Pallus, before it eventually broke off but the theory has been dismissed due to its increased reflectivity.

The information discovered by the researchers will help the Japan Space Agency during a mission to explore Phaeton in 2022.


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