The asteroid Cleopatra is shaped like a bone and appears to orbit the sun.
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, CALIFORNIA — Astronomers have spotted an odd-shaped asteroid orbiting the sun in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. The strange asteroid, named Cleopatra, was recently imaged in the most detail using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large telescope (VLT).
If the asteroid is viewed from different angles, it shows its two lobes which are connected by a central part with a bone-like overall shape.
“Cleopatra is truly a unique object in our Solar System,” said lead author of the new study on asteroids, Franck Marchis, astronomer at the SETI Institute. Digital Trends, Sunday (12/9).
“Science is making a lot of progress thanks to the study of strange foreign bodies. I think Kleopatra one of them and understanding this complex multi-asteroid system can help us learn more about our Solar System.”
To understand Cleopatra’s shape, the researchers used the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (SPHERE) instrument on the VLT to capture it from different angles and then create a 3D model of the shape. They noticed that one lobe was slightly larger than the other and a total length of about 170 miles.
Another interesting news about this asteroid is that it has two moons orbiting it. Their orbits are complex due to the asteroid’s odd shape. With the model, the researchers were able to use this information to calculate the mass of the asteroid, which turned out to be much smaller than previously thought.
Future studies of Cleopatra will use the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) to see it in more detail. The new telescope’s adaptive optical system will use defective mirrors to reduce distortion caused by the atmosphere, allowing it to see distant objects such as asteroids in sharper focus. This research was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.