The European Southern Observatory recently released detailed images of 42 of the solar system's largest asteroids, captured by the observatory's VLT or Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Firstpost report said that these sharpest images of the asteroids were put out with the date of release, and number serving as a tribute to Douglas Adams, a science fiction writer.

The observations of these asteroids, as this report stated, which were found between Mars and Jupiter, unveiled a wide range of the asteroids' unusual shapes "from dog-bone to spherical." The study is helping astronomers in outlining the asteroids' origin in the solar system.

Scientists have realized that the observed bodies can be split into two families following the reconstruction of their shapes.

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Science Times - Largest Asteroids in the Solar System Exhibited in ESO’s More Than 40 Sharpest Images
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
These are the four largest asteroids (known as "The Big Four"), Ceres (939 km), Vesta (525 km), Pallas (512 km), Hygiea (430 km).


Asteroid Belts 

As described in the report some of the asteroids were flawlessly spherical as "Ceres and Hygiea," whereas there were others that have a more unusual, elongated shape among them, being the dog bone asteroid also called Kleopatra.

A lot of the other objects were bigger than 100 kilometers in size, with Ceres and Vesta, being the two biggest objects respectively at 940 and 520 kilometers.

France-based Laboratorire d'Astrophysique de Marseille's Pierre Vernazza said, only three large main asteroid belts identified as Ceres, Lutetia, and Vesta, have been captured with a high level of detail to date as they were visited by the European Space Agency's space missions, as well as NASA, Rosetta and Dawn's respectively.

Vernazza, together with his team had carried out a thorough survey of the major bodies between 2017 and 2019 in the asteroid belt, the results of which came out this month in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal.

Science Times - Largest Asteroids in the Solar System Exhibited in ESO’s More Than 40 Sharpest Images
(Photo : NASA/JPLImage modified by Jcpag2012 on Wikimedia Commons)
The size comparison of the asteroids are Ceres, Vesta, and Eros.

Images in 3D Shape

The most recent images of the captured asteroids mean various key characteristics like their density of 3D shape, which had formerly stayed greatly unknown.

In a similar report, Phys.org said, through a combination of shapes of the asteroids with details on their masses, Vernazza, along with his team discovered that the objects' density varied substantially through the sample size.

Meanwhile, the four least dense asteroids including Lamberta and Sylvia had densities of roughly 1.3 grams per cubic centimeter, approximately equivalent to the coal's density.

Meanwhile, the densest asteroids identified as Kalliope and Psyche, which had densities higher than that of diamond equivalent to 4.4 and 3.9 gram-per-cubic centimeters respectively.

Formed Beyond Orbit of Neptune

Such results back the notion that the least dense asteroids migrated to their current location following their formation in the regions outside the orbit of Neptune.

According to Charles University's Josef Hanuš, the study offers robust support for the significant migration of these bodies since they were formed, adding that this was the lone explanation for the variety in terms of their composition.

Essentially, the asteroids' sample number was picked as a tribute to their series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam, which was published more than four decades ago on the same date.

Citing the writer, ESO said that the images, as shown on the observatory's YouTube video below, were a step ahead in the exploration of asteroids, giving credit to ground-based telescopes, and contributing the response to the ultimate question not of life, but the universe and everything, as well.

 

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