Astronomers study an asteroid that appeared out of nowhere

(ORDO NEWS) — Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin and staff at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have learned a lot about the asteroid 2019 OK, which three years ago suddenly appeared on its way to Earth from the “blind zone” – the solar opposition.

“It was a real challenge,” says Zambrano-Marin. “No one saw him until he was practically flying by, so when we received the alarm we had very little time to act. Despite this, we were able to get a lot of valuable information.”

It turned out that the asteroid was from 64 to 128 m in diameter and was moving fast. It made a complete revolution around its axis at a speed of 3 to 5 minutes. This means that it is included in only 4.2% of the known rapidly rotating asteroids.

The data indicate that the asteroid is most likely a C-type, consisting of clay and silicate rocks, or an S-type, consisting of silicate and nickel-iron rocks. C-type asteroids are among the most common and among the oldest in our solar system. S-type is the second most common.

Zambrano-Marin is currently reviewing data collected from the Arecibo Planetary Radar Database to further its research. While the observatory’s telescope went out of service in 2020, the Planetary Radar team can use an existing databank spanning four decades.


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