Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A sharper look at near Earth asteroid 2002 NY40


The Near Earth Asteroid 2002 NY40 was observed with the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, Canary Islands, on the night of August 17 to 18, 2002. The asteroid was imaged just before its closest approach to Earth, using the Adaptive Optics system NAOMI. These are the first images of a Near Earth Asteroid obtained with an Adaptive Optics system. During these observations the asteroid was 750,000 kilometres away, twice the distance to the Moon, and moving very rapidly across the sky (crossing a distance similar to the diameter of the Moon in 6 minutes or at 65,000 kilometres per hour). Despite the technical difficulties introduced by this, very high quality images were obtained in the near-infrared with a resolution of 0.11 arcseconds. This resolution is close to the theoretical limit of the telescope, and sets an upper limit to the size of the asteroid: only 400 metres across at the time of the observations.

Measuring the size of asteroids helps astronomers understand their nature and formation history as well as the potential threat they pose.

Near Earth Asteroids are a small population of asteroids that periodically approach or intersect the orbit of our planet, and have the possibility of colliding with the Earth as probably happened 65 million years ago, ending the dinosaur era. However, the probability that such an impact could happen is very low and in particular Near Earth Asteroid 2002 NY40 represents no danger to human live on Earth.

Close encounters of large Near Earth Asteroids such as 2002 NY40 on August 18 happen approximately every 50 years. The last known case was NEA 2001 CU11 which passed just outside the Moon`s orbit on August 31, 1925. Nobody saw that approach because that asteroid was not discovered until 77 years later. 2002 NY40 was discovered on July 14, 2002 by the LINEAR telescope in New Mexico (USA), providing a unique opportunity to obtain observations of the asteroid from the Earth during its flyby.

Several observers have reported variations in the brightness of 2002 NY40, suggesting that it is highly elongated and tumbling. Further monitoring of these variations will tell us whether the asteroid was viewed end-on or side-on, and thus allowing the determination of the size and the shape more precisely.

NAOMI is the WHT`s Adaptive Optics system, built by a team from the University of Durham and the Astronomy Technology Centre, UK. It incorporates a system of fast-moving mirror elements which correct in real-time for the defocusing of stars caused by the Earth`s turbulent atmosphere. In good conditions, NAOMI delivers images as sharp as those from Hubble Space Telescope.

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is an establishment of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) of the United Kingdom, the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) of the Netherlands and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain. The ING operates the 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope, the 2.5 metre Isaac Newton Telescope, and the 1.0 metre Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope. The telescopes are located in the Spanish Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma which is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).

The ING NAOMI team consists of Dr. Chris Benn, Dr. Sebastian Els, Dr. Tom Gregory, Dr. Roy Østensen and Dr. Francisco Prada.

Javier Méndez | AlphaGalileo

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>