(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Lucy mission science team has discovered that the Trojan asteroid Polymela has its own moon. The new discovery, which is reported in a press release on Phys.org, was made thanks to the eclipse of a star by an asteroid.
The researchers analyzed data from observations made by 26 teams of professional and amateur astronomers of the eclipse from different points on Earth. This made it possible to determine the location.
dimensions and shape of Polymela with high precision. However, experts noticed that in two cases an object was detected that is located 200 kilometers from the asteroid, which is probably a satellite.
The moon has a diameter of about five kilometers, while the length of the widest axis of Polymela is about 27 kilometers. Under the naming convention for space objects, the satellite will be given an official name when astronomers determine its orbit.
Because it is too close to the asteroid, it cannot be clearly seen with ground or near-Earth telescopes, so the orbit can be determined either during other eclipses or when Lucy approaches the asteroid in 2027.
The Lucy team originally planned to visit one main belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids that follow Jupiter in its orbit around the Sun.
In January 2021, a team using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered that one of the Trojan asteroids, Eurybates, has a small moon. It is now slated to visit nine asteroids, including Polymela, over a 12-year mission.
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