Astronomers team up to study triple asteroid

Both backyard and professional astronomers are teaming up and combining observations in an attempt to learn more about the asteroid known as Sylvia. In 2005, it was discovered that Sylvie, the triple asteroid, has two moons.

Sylvia Asteroid

Rendering of the Sylvia triple asteroid. Photo from Astronomy.com

The team is led by Franck Marchis from the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Montain View, California. “Because (87) Sylvia is a large, bright asteroid located in the main belt, it is a great target for the first generation of adaptive-optics systems available on these large telescopes. We have combined data from our team with archival data to get a good understanding of the orbits of these moons,” Marchis said.

Astronomy.com reports that the team of astronomers used their combined information to piece together information about the shape of the asteroid. Sylvia is reported to be 170 miles wide.

“Knowledge of the internal structure of asteroids is key to understanding how the planets of our solar system formed,” Marchis said.

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