Centaur discovered he was lurking deep in the solar system Science...

Centaur discovered he was lurking deep in the solar system Science...
Centaur discovered he was lurking deep in the solar system Science...

Astronomers, astronomically speaking, are space rocks that have the properties of asteroids and comets. It is believed that they came from beyond the orbit of Neptune and traveled inward to the sun.

They rummaged in the solar system for millions of years and were responsible for the late heavy bombardment about 3.8 billion years ago when asteroids rained on Earth.

They share the same rocky body of an asteroid while releasing gas and vapor known as a coma throughout their history, much like a comet.

When these gases are chemically present, centaurs are considered active, and only 18 of these active centaurs have been found since the first was discovered in 1927.

Now another can be added to the list after astronomers discovered Centaur in 2014 OG392 lurking near Jupiter’s orbit.

Finding and keeping track of a centaur is notoriously difficult as they are millions of miles away and orbiting in hundreds of thousands of space rocks.

Researchers found the latest centaur by analyzing archive images from a number of telescopes as well as new data collected by the Dark Energy Camera at the Inter-American Observatory and the Walter Baade Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory.

Northern Arizona University astronomer Colin Chandler said, “Our article reports the discovery of activity emanating from Centaur 2014 OG392 based on archival images we discovered as well as our own new observational evidence obtained with the Dark Energy Camera the Inter-American Observatory in Cerro Tololo, Chile, the Walter Baade Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and the large monolithic imager at the Discovery Channel Telescope of the Lowell Observatory in Happy Jack, Arizona.

“We have developed a novel technique that combines observational measurements – such as color and dust mass – with modeling efforts in order to estimate properties such as the volatile sublimation and orbital dynamics of the object.”

According to the study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, a specially developed algorithm is used that looks for clues about the conversion of solids into gases that leave the coma behind.

Mr. Chandler added, “We have been diagnosed with a coma up to 400,000 km [248,548 miles] as of 2014 OG392 and our analysis of the sublimation processes and dynamic lifespan suggest that carbon dioxide and / or ammonia are the most likely candidates for the activity of this and other active centaurs.

“We have developed a novel technique that combines observational measurements such as color and dust mass with modeling efforts to estimate properties such as the volatile sublimation and orbital dynamics of the object.”

This is the closely monitored centaur activity, which astronomers at the Minor Planet Center have classified as a comet, and which is known as “C / 2014 OG392 (PANSTARRS)”.

Mr. Chandler added: “I am very pleased that the Minor Planet Center has given a new comet name to reflect the activity we have discovered on this unusual object.”

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