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Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyard



Amateurs reshape asteroids from their backyard

Unistellar global network.Credit: SETI Institute

There are nearly one million asteroids in the catalog, but we know very little about many of them. Now Unistellar and its scientific partner SETI Institute can rely on a network of nearly 3,000 hobbyists who can observe thousands of asteroids and provide estimates of their size and shape. The Unistellar network is the largest network of citizen astronomers with mobile stations located in Asia, North America and Europe. It has participated in cutting-edge research and published the first batch of scientific results, including 3-D shape models of asteroids and the size of asteroids. another.


Franck Marchis, chief planetary astronomer of the SETI Institute, said: “The Unistellar eVscope is not just a telescope, it is also a tool for accessing a network of citizen astronomers around the world who can observe and participate in scientific sports together.”

; Unistellar officials. “Today, more than 150 people have contributed to our campaign and collected valuable scientific data from their backyards.”

In addition to the SETI Institute, the Marchis team also collaborated with Josef Hanuš and JosefĎurech of the Institute of Astronomy at Charles University to identify potential targets of interest in asteroid populations. Markis said: “After designing and validating our data analysis process in 2020, we can now regularly propose campaigns to citizen astronomers.”

Asteroid 943 Begonia: Occultation Event

Although it was discovered in October 1920, we don’t know much about the size of the asteroid 943 Begonia. Unistellar engineer Inès Demuys determined an occultation of Begonia. Occultation refers to the temporary disappearance of a star when an asteroid (or other object) passes by. In September 2020, two American citizen astronomers in Arizona and New York detected an occultation using their eVscopes (single-satellite digital telescopes). Analysis of the data they collected indicated that the diameter of the main belt asteroid may be 83 kilometers, making it 20% larger than previously known.

Markis said: “The main difficulty of this type of observation is to place the observation in the right place and at the right time.” “It must have time, good weather and a little luck. 53 occultations were initiated, resulting in 10 occultations. Positive detection, but as the process matures in the next few weeks, positive detection will indeed be carried out more frequently. Therefore, observers expect more and more accurate scientific results.

Asteroid 787 Moskva: the light curve reverses

Another way to study asteroids is to measure the changes in light reflected due to their irregular shapes. “Despite the relatively small aperture of the eVscope, it is powerful enough to characterize about 6,000 known asteroids in one year. Joé Asencio, a research assistant at the SETI Institute, chose the main belt asteroid 787 Moskva, which has an estimated diameter of 30 km. By August 2020, our network will observe it for more than an hour. Seven citizen astronomers from 4 different countries including the United States, Finland, Switzerland and France have sent the observation results.”

The change in flux over time (also called the light curve) shows the spin of the asteroid and confirms the 6.056-hour spin period. Combining these new observations with previous observations, the Charles University research team discovered a new asteroid shape model, which is very slender and has a diameter between 25 and 30 kilometers.

Esposito said: “This observation confirms that eVscope can be used for precise photometric studies, including flying exoplanets, variable stars, supernovae and other transient events, thus greatly increasing the number of possible studies on the Unistellar network.”

Motivated by these latest achievements, the team is adding a new education program and expanding the eVscope network. Simon Steel, SETI Institute’s Senior Director of Education and STEM Program, said: “Education is one of the cornerstones of SETI Institute’s work and philosophy.” Unistellar technology is a powerful tool that can attract and inspire the next generation of astronomers, scientists, and even Anyone who has ever thought about the beauty of the night sky. “

These findings will be presented at the 52nd annual meeting of the Planetary Science Division of the American Astronomical Society.


eVscope first observed an asteroid mouth occultation


More information:
Section 413 Education and Community Participation 2 Speech. 413.02 Preliminary results of a network of small digital and smart telescopes: Frank Marquis, SETI Institute and Unistellar published “Citizen Science of Astronomy” on Thursday, October 29.

Provided by SETI Institute

Citation: Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyard (2020, October 29) October 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-citizen-astronomers-reshape-asteroids-backyard .html search

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