The study describes the discovery of a binary trans-Neptunian object

The SwRI study describes the discovery of a nearly binary trans-Neptunian object.

The image is an artist’s impression of a trans-Neptunian object, a binary object discovered by scientists from two recently discovered Southwestern research institutes. Sincerely: Southwest Research Institute

A new study written by scientists Rodrigo Leiva and Mark Bui of the Southwest Research Institute reveals the binary nature of a trans-Neptunian object (TNO). Leiva and Bui used data obtained by the Research and Education Collaborative Network (RECON), a citizen science research work dedicated to observing the outer solar system. The study was published in this month The Astrophysical Journal.

Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) are small icy bodies that orbit the sun beyond Neptune. Binary TNOs occur when two of these objects orbit the Sun, orbiting each other. Leiva and Bui discovered two objects in a particularly close gravitational configuration. The pair was detected using a stellar indulgence, which occurs when an object passes between the Earth and a distant star, which hides, or “occult,” the star from the scene. Observers in the path of the object’s shadow can record the star in the blink of an eye and reappear. The length of time that an object blocks the starlight can be used to determine its size.

“In this example, the secret star also turns out to be a binary system. Binary stars are not uncommon and binary objects are not uncommon,” Bui said. “But it is unusual that we have a binary TNO that offends a binary star.”

“What’s interesting and unusual is the characteristics of the object,” Leiva said. “The two components are close enough, just 350 kilometers away. Most binary TNOs are very different, usually 1,000 kilometers or more. This proximity makes it difficult to detect this type of binary TNO in other ways, which is what RECON can accomplish. Was designed for. ”

The discovery of the new TNO was made possible by RECON, a collection of 56 observation stations stretching from Yuma, Arizona, Washington to Orville. The NSF-funded project provides each station with an array of observation equipment, including an 11-inch telescope. High school teachers to operate the stations include Liva, Bui and Fiske Planetarium director Drs. They are trained by John Keller and supervised occult so that they can then teach students how to make the same observations. RECON has seen many students doing research related to their observations in college.

“To me this project is citizen science at its best,” Bui said. “They are learning as well as making observations and helping to collect data. If they did not do that, we would not learn about these objects.”

RECON stations are usually placed in small communities along an ideal line, from the southern border of the United States to the observation of stellar indulgence. Eight additional stations were established in Canada in 2018 by partners Leiva and Bui.

Going further, Leiva and Bui may have continued the search for previously unread TNOs, with the aim of finding out whether close binaries are common or unusual in our solar system.

“Most models of the solar system indicate that binaries are very common, especially binaries such as this close,” Leiva said. “If you have an accurate measurement of how common they are, you can fix these models.”

“Our goal is to find out how common binary TNOs are.” “Is this item in a million, or like 90% of them? It is increasing our knowledge to build better models of the solar system.”

Is there a moon in the next target of New Horizons?

more information:
Stellar oscillation, a closed binary TNO, by Rodrigo Leiva et al, Resonant Trans-Neptunian Object (523764) 2014 Well510 The Planetary Science Journal (2020). DOI: 10.3847 / PSJ / abb23d

Provided by Southwest Research Institute

Quotes: The study describes the discovery of a binary trans-Neptunian object (2020, 28 September) retrieved from on 29 September 2020 has been done.

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