What is a binary asteroid and how the BMO RESEARCH contribute to its understanding?
Imagine if an approaching asteroid is hurtling towards the earth, the knowledge of the asteroid consist of 2 objects will mean either the survival of mankind or not. About 20% of asteroids that are known to be part of the NEA (Near Earth Asteroids) are binary.
Most asteroids are located between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter. However some asteroids orbit very close to Earth and will from time to time pass-by the Earth. These asteroids are called NEA. We regularly observe NEA asteroids and also some of those that are between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter called Main Belt Asteroids (MBA).
We learnt about asteroids by observing the changes in brightness of the asteroid over time. The asteroids are so small that we cannot see them as anything more than just a point of light in the field of back ground stars. No matter how powerful our telescopes are, we will only see them as star-like points of light. They are very faint and just to capture the lights coming from these asteroids will require long exposure imaging using our powerful telescopes and specialised super sensitive astronomical camera. On the other hand the exposure time can't be too long too since asteroids do move against the background stars and useful information can only be obtained if the asteroids images are star like. In other words if the exposure is too long, the moving asteroids will show up as a streak or streaks in the picture (Picture right) and will be useless for photometry (the science of measuring the asteroids' lights).
Our latest research result has been published in CBAT (Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams), a clearing house where all discoveries are sent and processed.