Science & Technology

Metal asteroid 16 Psyche may not have been thought of before

Asteroid 16 Psyche artist concept. Credits: Maxar / ASU / P.Rubin / NASA / JPL-Caltech.

The widely studied metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche has long been thought to be the exposed iron core of a small planet that was not formed during the early part of the solar system.

However, a new study led by the University of Arizona suggests that asteroids may not be as metallic or dense as once thought, suggesting stories of much different origins.

Scientists are interested in 16 Psyche. Because if its presumed origin is true, it provides an opportunity to study the core of an exposed planet up close.

NASA will launch a psychic mission in 2022 and will arrive at the asteroid in 2026.

UArizona’s undergraduate David Cantillo is the lead author of a new treatise published in The Planetary Science Journal, 16 Psyche is 82.5% metal, 7% low hedenbergite, 10.5% carbonaceous chondrite, and It may have been caused by a shock from another asteroid.

Cantillo and his collaborators estimate that 16 Psyche’s bulk density (also known as porosity, which indicates how much free space there is in the body) is about 35%.

These estimates differ from previous analyzes of the composition of 16 psikes, which researchers estimated to contain as much as 95% metal and may be much denser.

“The reduction in metal content and bulk density is interesting because it shows that 16 Psyche has changed more than previously thought,” Cantillo said.

Rather than the intact exposed core of the early planets, it could actually be close to a pile of rubble, as well as another thoroughly studied asteroid, Bennu.

UArizona leads the science mission team for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. This mission took samples from the surface of Benne, who is now returning to Earth.

“Psychedelic as a pile of rubble is very unexpected, but despite its high metal content, our data continue to give low-density estimates,” said Cantillo. ..

Asteroid 16 Psyche is about the same size as Massachusetts, and scientists estimate that it contains about 1% of all asteroid belt material. First discovered by Italian astronomers in 1852 was the 16th asteroid ever discovered.

“Lower metal content than previously thought means that the asteroid was exposed to collisions with the more common carbonaceous chondrite-containing asteroids that deposited the surface layers we are observing. It means there is a possibility, “said Cantillo. This was also observed on the asteroid Vesta by the NASA Dawn spacecraft.

The asteroid 16 Psyche is estimated to be worth $ 10,000 trillion (that is, there are 15 more zeros following $ 10,000), but new discoveries make the iron-rich asteroid slightly worth it. It may go down.

“This is the first paper that sets some specific constraints on its surface content. Earlier estimates were a good start, but this refines those numbers a bit,” says Cantillo. I did.

Another well-studied asteroid, Bennu, is rich in carbonaceous chondrites and has a porosity of over 50%. This is a classic feature of the rubble pile.

Such high porosity is common in relatively small, low-mass objects such as Benne, which is as large as the Empire State Building. This is to prevent the rocks and rocks of the object from becoming too dense due to the weak gravitational field. However, this is unexpected for objects where the size of 16 Psyche is very porous.

“Opportunities to study the exposed cores of planetesimals are very rare, so they are sending spacecraft missions there, but our work is that 16 Psyche is much more interesting than expected. is showing.”

Past estimates of the composition of Psike were made by analyzing the sunlight reflected on its surface.

The pattern of light matched the pattern of other metal objects. Cantillo and his collaborators instead mixed 16 Psyche regoliths (or loose) by mixing different materials in the laboratory and analyzing light patterns until they were consistent with asteroid telescope observations. Rock surface material) has been reproduced.

Only a few laboratories in the world are practicing this technology, such as the U Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Maryland and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where Cantillo worked in high school.

“I’ve always been interested in space,” said Cantillo, president of the U Arizona Astronomy Club.

“I knew that astronomy research would focus on computers and observations, but I wanted to do more practical work, so I somehow wanted to connect my research to geology. I wanted to link my research to geology. I major in geology and minors in mathematics. “

“David’s paper is an example of cutting-edge research done by undergraduates,” said Vishnu Reddy, a co-author of the research and an associate professor of planetary science who leads the laboratory where Cantillo works.

“This is also a good example of collaboration between undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and my lab staff.”

Researchers also believe that the carbonaceous material on the surface of 16 Psyche is water-rich, so then merging data from ground-based telescopes and spacecraft missions to other asteroids, Helps determine the amount of water present.

Written by Mikaira Mace Kelly.

Metal asteroid 16 Psyche may not have been thought of before Metal asteroid 16 Psyche may not have been thought of before

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