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Date:
Asteroid 2004DC
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Today, the asteroid 2004 DC passed the Earth at about 4 million kilometres away.
Yesterday, the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico imaged the asteroid and discovered that it is actually two asteroids - a 60 metre sized rock orbiting a 300 metre rock.
Researchers estimate that one in six near-Earth asteroids are binaries.

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RE: Double Asteroids
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Title: The largest Kuiper belt objects

ABSTRACT
The past year has seen an explosion in the discoveries of Pluto-sized objects in the Kuiper belt. With the discoveries of the methane-covered 2003 UB313 and 2005 FY9, the multiple satellite system of 2003 EL61, and the Pluto-Charon analogy system of Orcus and its satellite, it is finally apparent that Pluto is not a unique oddball at the edge of the solar system, but rather one of a family of similarly large objects in the Kuiper belt and beyond.
HST observations over the past decade have been critical for understanding the interior, surface, and atmosphere of Pluto and Charon.
We propose here a comprehensive series of observations designed to similarly expand our knowledge of these recently discovered Pluto-sized and near-Pluto sized Kuiper belt objects. These observations will measure objects' sizes and densities, explore the outcome of collisions in the outer solar system, and allow the first ever look at the interior structure of a Kuiper belt object.
Our wide field survey that discovered all of these objects is nearly finished, so after five years of continuous searching we are finally almost complete in our tally of these near-Pluto-sized objects. This large HST request is the culmination of this half-decade search for new planetary-sized objects. As has been demonstrated repeatedly by the approximately 100 previous orbits devoted to the study of Pluto, only HST has the resolution and sensitivity for detailed study of these distant objects. With these new Pluto-sized objects only now being discovered we have a limited window left to still use HST for these critical observations.

(Ed - 90482 Orcus and 2002 UX25 have large satellites).

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90482 Orcus (originally known by the provisional designation 2004 DW) is a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) that was discovered by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. The discovery images of this object were acquired on February 17, 2004. Precovery images as early as November 8, 1951 were later identified.

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Posts: 131433
Date:
2002CR46 Binary Centaur
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title:Discovery of a Binary Centaur
Authors: K. S. Noll, H. F. Levison, W. M. Grundy, D. C. Stephens

Researchers have identified a binary companion to (42355) 2002 CR46 in their ongoing deep survey using the Hubble Space Telescope's High Resolution Camera.
It is the first companion to be found around an object in a non-resonant orbit that crosses the orbits of giant planets. Objects in orbits of this kind, the Centaurs, have experienced repeated strong scattering with one or more giant planets and therefore the survival of binaries in this transient population has been in question.
Monte Carlo simulations suggest, however, that binaries in (42355) 2002 CR46 -like heliocentric orbits have a high probability of survival for reasonable estimates of the binary's still-unknown system mass and separation. Because Centaurs are thought to be precursors to short period comets, the question of the existence of binary comets naturally arises; none has yet been definitively identified.
The discovery of one binary in a sample of eight observed by HST suggests that binaries in this population may not be uncommon.


Combined image of (42355) 2002 CR46 obtained with the ACS/HRC is shown. Four separate 300 sec integrations have been combined as described in the text. The secondary is clearly resolved to the lower left of the primary. The pixels in this image are 25 milliarcsec on a side; only a small portion of the full image is shown for detail. The secondary lies 0.1090.002 arcsec from the primary at a position angle of 226.80.8 degrees East of North. North, in this image, lies approximately to the right.


A plan view of the orbit of (42355) 2002 CR46 compared to the orbits of the gas-giant planets. Dots show the location of each object on 1 March 2006. The orbit of (42355) 2002 CR46 crosses both the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. It is not in an identified resonance with either planet, will have close encounters with both, and will eventually be scattered out of this region of the solar system.

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Posts: 131433
Date:
Kuiper belt
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In the not-too-distant past, the planet Pluto was thought to be an odd bird in the outer reaches of the solar system because it has a moon, Charon, that was formed much like Earth's own moon was formed. But Pluto is getting a lot of company these days. Of the four largest objects in the Kuiper belt, three have one or more moons.

"We're now beginning to realize that Pluto is one of a small family of similar objects, nearly all of which have moons in orbit around them" - Antonin Bouchez, a California Institute of Technology astronomer.

Bouchez discussed his work on the Kuiper belt Tuesday, January 10, at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
Bouchez says that the puzzle for planetary scientists is that, as a whole, the hundreds of objects now known to inhabit the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune have only about an 11 percent chance of possessing their own satellites. But three of the four largest objects now known in the region have satellites, which means that different processes are at work for the large and small bodies.
Experts have been fairly confident for a decade or more that Pluto's moon Charon was formed as the result of an impact, but that the planet seemed unique in this. According to computer models, Pluto was hit by an object roughly one-half its own size, vaporizing some of the planet's material. A large piece, however, was cleaved off nearly intact, forming Pluto's moon Charon.
Earth's moon is thought to have been formed in a similar way, though our moon most likely formed out of a hot disk of material left in orbit after such a violent impact.
Just in the last year, astronomers have discovered two additional moons for Pluto, but the consensus is still that the huge Charon was formed by a glancing blow with another body, and that all three known satellites-as well as anything else not yet spotted from Earth-were built up from the debris.
As for the other Kuiper belt objects, experts at first thought that the bodies acquired their moons only occasionally by snagging them through gravitational capture. For the smaller bodies, the 11 percent figure would be about right.

But the bigger bodies are another story. The biggest of all-and still awaiting designation as the tenth planet-is currently nicknamed "Xena." Discovered by Caltech's Professor of Planetary Science Mike Brown and his associates, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory and David Rabinowitz of Yale University, Xena is 25 percent larger than Pluto and is known to have at least one moon.
The second-largest Kuiper belt object is Pluto, which has three moons and counting. The third-largest is nicknamed "Santa" because of the time of its discovery by the Mike Brown team, and is known to have two moons.

"Santa is an odd one. You normally would expect moons to form in the same plane because they would have accreted from a disk of material in orbit around the main body. But Santa's moons are 40 degrees apart. We can't explain it yet"- Antonin Bouchez.

The fourth-largest Kuiper belt object is nicknamed "Easterbunny"-again, because of the time the Brown team discovered it-and is not yet known to have a moon. But in April, Bouchez and Brown will again be looking at Easterbunny with the adaptive-optics rig on one of the 10-meter Keck telescopes, and a moon might very well turn up.

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Posts: 131433
Date:
RE: Double Asteroids
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Object Seperation

(80806) 2000 M105 2002 0.088 0.01
1999 OJ41,2 0.080 0.01
2000 OJ67 C 2003 0.076 0.01
(79360) 1997 CS29 2002 0.074 0.01
(82075) 2000 YW1342 0.061 0.01
(48639) 1995 TL8 2002 0.014 0.01



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Posts: 131433
Date:
Transneptunian Binaries
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Detection of Six Transneptunian Binaries with NICMOS: A High Fraction of Binaries in the Cold Classical Disk

Authors: D. C. Stephens, K. S. Noll

Researchers have analysed a homogeneous set of observations of eighty-one transneptunian objects obtained with the NIC2 camera on the Hubble Space Telescope with the goal of identifying partially resolved binaries. Using PSF-fitting they have identified six likely binaries in addition to the three new binaries already found in this data set.

They found find that 11% of transneptunian objects are binaries at separation and brightness limits of the NIC2 camera. The identification of these new binaries significantly increases the known lower limit to the binary fraction among transneptunian objects. The origin of such a high fraction of binaries remains to be determined.
Most interestingly, detectable binaries appear to be about four times more common among the cold classical disk than in the dynamically excited populations.

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Posts: 131433
Date:
Double Asteroids
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Until recently, natural satellites were only known around the major planets.
The Moon orbits the Earth, there are two tiny moons around Mars, each of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune has many more, and even the smallest and outermost, Pluto, is accompanied by one.

However, new discoveries over the last ten years now strengthen the belief of many astronomers that a substantial number of the many thousands of asteroids or Kuiper belt objects in the solar system may also possess their own moons.
The first asteroid moon to be identified was Dactyl which orbits 243 Ida. It was discovered by the Galileo probe in 1993.

One study has put a figure of 16% of near Earth asteroids are binary.
Though these pairs may have been created by the tidal effects of Earth's gravity. The asteroids are disrupted when they make close approaches to the planet.

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Similar binary asteroids have actually hit the Earth in the past.

It has been estimated that approximately al least ten percent of the impact structures on Earth are doublets or twin structures, suggesting a nearly simultaneous impact of binary or fragmented asteroids.
Of about 28 known terrestrial impact craters with diameters greater than 20 kilometres, at least three are thought to be double craters formed by impacts of objects about the same size as the newly discovered binaries. One such example is the 73-million-year-old double impact structure referred to as Kara and Ust-Kara in Russia.

The origin of these asteroid moons is not currently known.

One widely accepted theory is that asteroid moons are formed from debris knocked off of the primary asteroid by an impact; or it could be that the pairings form when a small asteroid is captured by the gravity of a larger one.

The term double asteroid is sometimes used for systems in which the asteroid and its moon are roughly the same size.

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