Dimorphos, the asteroid hit by a spacecraft, is now followed by a debris trail of about 10,000 km
After the mission NASA’s DART or Double Asteroid Redirection Test managed to crash into the asteroid Dimorphos, we are now awaiting the conclusions of the scientists on the results of the operation. For study the effects of impact, researchers analyze images taken by terrestrial telescopes and space probes. Recently, a new image captured from the ground was released, and it shows the appearance of a long trail behind Dimorphostwo days after impact.
According to scientists, this tail, which resembles that of a cometis made of dust and debris ejected from the surface of Dimorphos. The contrail image was captured by astronomers Teddy Kareta of the Lowell Observatory, and Matthew Knight of the US Naval Academy. The two scientists used the telescope Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) of 4.1 m which is located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory of the NOIRLab in Chile.
DART is the first-ever mission developed to test whether a collision can deflect a hypothetical asteroid heading towards Earth.
Study the debris
Observing the ejected materials will allow scientists to know more about the nature of the surface of Dimorphos. This trail of debris can indeed reveal how much material was ejected by the impact, what was the speed of the ejected debris and what is the size of the particles coming from the surface. Better understanding the structure and composition of asteroids will allow space agencies such as NASA to better protect the Earth against possible impacts. The information obtained can help scientists to model the best way to deflect dangerous asteroids.
According to observations, the dust trail was initially ejected on September 26 when the DART probe slammed into Dimorphos. This first created a cloud around the space rock. Later, the tail-like structure was created when radiation pressure from the Sun pushed debris back away from the asteroid. This is the same phenomenon that takes place when comets approach the Sun.
Based on the image taken by the SOAR telescope, scientists estimated that the tail behind Dimorphos had a length of about 10,000 km. Before the impact, the asteroid was 160 m wide.
The sightings continue
The observation work will continue for the SOAR telescope which will study the effects of the impact of the DART probe. The telescope will collect data that will allow scientists to assess whether the attempt to alter the asteroid’s orbit has been successful.
According to Knight, the next phase of the DART team’s work begins now. They will analyze all the data and observations from researchers around the world who participated in the study of this event.