Author: National Science Foundation / NOIRLab

On Monday, September 26, 2022, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) spacecraft intentionally crashed into Dimorphos, a lunar asteroid in the Didymos binary asteroid system. This was the first planetary defense test in which a spacecraft strike attempted to alter the orbit of an asteroid.


Two days after DART struck, astronomers Teddy Coretta (Lowell Observatory) and Matthew Knight (US Naval Academy) used the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) 4.1-meter telescope at NSF NOIRLab’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to capture the massive plume. dust and debris exploded from asteroidsurface. In this new image, the dust trail—emission that has been pushed back by solar radiation pressure, similar to the tail of a comet—can be seen stretching from the center to the right edge of the field of view, which is about 3.1 arcmin at SOAR using the Goodman High-Throughput Spectrograph. At Didymos’ distance from Earth at the time of observation, this would be at least 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) from the point of impact.

“It’s amazing how clearly we were able to capture the structure and scale of the aftermath in the days following the impact,” Coretta said.

“Now begins the next phase of work for the DART team as they analyze their data and the observations of our team and other observers around the world who participated in the study of this exciting event,” Knight said. We plan to use SOAR to monitor the release in the coming weeks and months. The combination of SOAR and AEON is what we need to effectively monitor events like this.”

These observations will allow scientists to learn about the nature of Dimorphos’ surface, how much material was ejected from the collision, how fast it was ejected, and the size distribution of particles in the extended dust cloud — for example, whether the impact was caused by the rover ejecting large chunks of material or mostly small ones. dust Analysis of this information will help scientists protect the Earth and its inhabitants by better understanding the amount and nature of the resulting emissions impactand how it might change the asteroid’s orbit.

SOAR observations demonstrate the capabilities of AURA’s capabilities in planetary defense planning and initiatives. In the future, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Chile, will conduct a census of the solar system to search for potentially dangerous objects.

Didymos was discovered in 1996 by UArizona’s Spacewatch 0.9-meter telescope at Kit Peak National Observatory, part of NSF’s NOIRLab program.


‘Incredible’: Astronomers hail first images of asteroid collision


Citation: SOAR telescope captures expanding tail of comet Dimorphos after collision with DART spacecraft (October 3, 2022) Retrieved October 3, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-soar-telescope-dimorphos-comet -like-tail .html

This document is subject to copyright. Except in good faith for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.