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Hubble telescope reveals asteroid Psyche’s rusty surface

6 Nov 2020, 12:35 UTC
Hubble telescope reveals asteroid Psyche’s rusty surface
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Artist’s concept of 16 Psyche, a massive asteroid located 230 million miles (370 million km) away from Earth. New ultraviolet observations of the asteroid and its surface revealed that it may be made entirely of nickel and iron, making it the perfect candidate to tell the tale of how Earth-like planets are formed. It is thought to be the core of a failed planet formation. Image via Maxar/ ASU/ P. Rubin/
NASA/ JPL-Caltech.
A team of scientists led by Tracy Becker of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said on October 26, 2020, that the deepest-ever ultraviolet observations of the asteroid 16 Psyche have revealed a secret: the asteroid may be made entirely of iron and nickel, and its surface may be covered in rust. Psyche was already classified as an M-type asteroid, that is, an asteroid known to contain a significant percentage of metal. It’s one of the most massive objects currently known to be orbiting in the solar system’s asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Generally speaking, metal asteroids are rare, and the study revealed that Psyche may be the most “metal-like” of all known asteroids. Thus Psyche has a story to tell about solid planets ...

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