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Post Info TOPIC: Asteroid 2001 QW322


L

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RE: Asteroid 2001 QW322
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A group of astronomers using a battery of 8-meter telescopes, including both Gemini North and South, have discovered a small pair of gravitationally bound Kuiper Belt objects with an enormous separation (Figure 1). The extreme binary, 2001 QW322, orbits at 43 astronomical units or about 6.5billion kilometres from the Sun. The two bodies are separated by about 125,000 kilometres (one third the distance from the Earth to the Moon) which is very large for these two tiny bodies. As a comparison, this is approximately equivalent to a pair of baseballs gravitationally "connected" and orbiting each other at a distance of 200 kilometers!

fig1.jpg

Figure 1. Optical image of the Kuiper Belt binary 2001 QW322 from Gemini North on July 8, 2005. Separation was 1.8 arcseconds. Their radii are about 50 kilometers. The pair is the two faint objects in the green circle.

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Long-distance relationship of 2 asteroids
In the outer reaches of our solar system, beyond Pluto, two small asteroids are caught in each other's gravitational fields. The asteroids are part of the Kuiper Belt, and they are slowly orbiting each other.

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Malgré les 105.000 à 135.000 kilomètres qui les séparent, deux astéroïdes de la ceinture de Kuiper poursuivent leur ballet, tournant en orbite lun autour de lautre depuis des millions dannées, expliquent des chercheurs dans la revue Science publiée aujourdhui. Ce duo bat des records de distance, expliquent Jean-Marc Petit, de lUniversité de Besançon, et ses collègues américains et espagnols.
Pendant six ans les astrophysiciens ont traqué ce système binaire, appelé 2001 QW322, situé au-delà de lorbite de Pluton dans la ceinture de Kuiper. Cest dans ce réservoir à comètes, peuplé de millions de petits corps, quont été récemment découvertes plusieurs planètes naines.

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2001 QW322
Number
-
Provisional name
2001 QW322
Class
Cubewano
Discovery
24.08.2001, 05:46:49 UT, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
valike.gif Discovery chart
Discovery position
5° Aquarius 28' Rx
Time of announcement
09.11.2001 - 22:58 UT
Orbital period
292.6 years
Orbit
  • crosses the orbit of Pluto
Aphelion
45.343 AU
Perihelion
43.121 AU
Semimajor axis
44.232 AU
Magnitude
7.8
Diameter
51 - 166 km
Inclination
4.8
 
2001 QW322 has a binary companion.

Satellite
S/2001 (2001 QW322) 1
Discovery
24.08.2001, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
Time of announcement
Distance between pair
n. 130,000 km
Orbital period
about 4 years
   
Source

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Astronomers discover a binary system that boasts the widest separation known in the solar system
Long-distance relationships are tough enough when partners are a continent apart. Consider the plight of two solar system bodies separated by a distance more than 20 times as great.
Astronomers have found such a partnership: two equal-mass members of the Kuiper belt, the reservoir of frozen objects beyond Neptune, that are gravitationally bound to each other but separated by more than 100,000 kilometers.

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