Title: (101429) 1998 VF31 (AKA: the Moon’s Sister).
Age: 4.5bn years, give or take.
Twinned with: The moon.
I didn’t realise the moon had any siblings. Nobody did. This one, an asteroid about 1km in diameter, has been hiding behind Mars the entire time.
And the way is it associated to the moon? They look like product of the identical stuff.
How would anybody know that? Spectroscopic statement.
What does that imply? It means they checked out it with a really massive telescope, referred to as the Very Giant Telescope, situated within the Atacama Desert in Chile.
And what did they uncover? “In a nutshell, it has the identical color because the moon,” stated astronomer Dr Apostolos Christou, lead writer of a brand new examine carried out by the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP).
The identical color? Can’t they provide you with a extra sciencey clarification? Detailed spectral evaluation suggests the asteroid is wealthy in pyroxene and iron – “nearly a dead-ringer for elements of the moon the place there’s uncovered bedrock”, based on Galin Borisov, an astrochemist on the AOP.
Thanks. How may we have now missed this? What else is lurking in the back of Mars? Really, it was found in 1998. It is among the Trojans orbiting with Mars.
Trojans? Celestial objects clustered round “Lagrange factors”, which is to say it’s suspended in equilibrium between the gravitational fields of Mars and the solar.
And there are extra of those Trojans? Sure, however the others appear to be associated to at least one one other. This one is completely different.
It’s our long-lost second moon! Extra precisely, it’s probably a small chunk of our moon that broke off and acquired caught up within the Martian orbit.
Who cares? We wish it again! The place are you going to place it?
We’ll stick it again on the moon! That may be troublesome.
And we wish a greater title for it than (101429) 1998 VF31. What do you recommend?
Moon 2. That’s not superb.
Chip Off the Outdated Moon. Neither is that.
Effective, we will kind out the naming later, as soon as we have now towed it again right here. Really, it’s doable – and perhaps much more doubtless – that this specific Trojan is a fraction of Mars itself.
Now you inform me. Sorry.
Do say: “It’s a dull chunk of poisonous crimson dust in the midst of nowhere. Let’s give it six electoral faculty votes.”
Don’t say: “And the winner is: Moony McMoonface.”