Technology

First asteroid with THREE moons discovered – and there’s a picture of it

For the first time, astronomers have discovered an asteroid orbiting not one, not two, but THREE moons.

The 130 Elektra space rock, Elektra for short, was known to have a pair of satellites, but researchers have now discovered a third.

Asteroid 130 Elektra has not one, not two, but three moons

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Asteroid 130 Elektra has not one, not two, but three moonsImage supplier: ESO / Berdeu et al., Yang et al

Located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the 200-kilometer-wide singularity was discovered in the 19th century.

It has been the subject of regular observations since then, leading to the discovery of a companion moon in 2003, followed by a second in 2014.

Astronomers unearthed a third while collecting data from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Anthony Berdeu of Thailand’s National Institute of Astronomical Research took a new look at the observations – also from 2014 – using a new data-processing algorithm.

Along with confirming two previously known moons, his discovery reveals faint signs of another moon lurking in plain view.

It makes Elektra the busiest asteroid system found to date and offers an opportunity to shed light on how such systems come about.

“This discovery will help astronomers understand how these moons form”, European Southern Observatory said in a statement.

It will also “provide important information about planet formation and the evolution of our solar system,” the observatory added.

The newly discovered moon, named S/2014 (130) 2, is the smallest of the trio, measuring just 1.6 km across.

It is 15,000 times fainter than Elektra in images of the asteroid system captured by astronomers.

Of the two remaining moons, the largest, s/2003 (130) 1, is only six kilometers across and orbits Elektra at a distance of 1,300 kilometers.

The middle sibling, on the other hand, is two kilometers across and surrounds its host from a distance of about 500 kilometers.

The experts noted in a research paper about their findings that, although lunar asteroids are not rare, they are difficult to detect.

To date, just over 150 asteroids have been discovered that have smaller moons affected by their gravity.

That’s a pretty small number compared to the more than 11,00,000 asteroids that have been discovered so far.

The asteroid belt is filled with ancient and unusual space rocks.

Their origins reveal the building blocks of the earliest rocky planets, scientists say.

Scientists analyzed images of Elektra taken by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile

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Scientists analyzed images of Elektra taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in ChileCredit: VTP

In other news, a British woman was tell of her horror after scammers used photos of a “silver fox” politician to defraud her of £80,000.

Norfolk . County Council suing Apple about what it says is misinformation about iPhone sales.

The creators of a scary new horror game say the title is so disturbing that they have to censor it on PlayStation.

And, Apple announced update to AirTags after it was announced that coin-sized tracking devices are being used to track people.


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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8386001/first-asteroid-three-moons-photo/ First asteroid with THREE moons discovered – and there’s a picture of it

Fry Electronics Team

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