First ever quadruple Asteroid system discovered in our solar system!

Scientist have spotted a third moon orbiting an asteroid. It is the first known quadruple asteroid system discovered in solar system.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:09 IST
First quadruple Asteroid system in solar system spotted.
First quadruple Asteroid system in solar system spotted. (NASA)
First quadruple Asteroid system in solar system spotted.
First quadruple Asteroid system in solar system spotted. (NASA)

A team of researchers from Thailand and France have discovered the first known quadruple Asteroid system in our solar system. A third moon has been spotted orbiting the main-belt asteroid Elektra which was already known to have two moons in its orbit. As per the data collected by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile in 2014, a third moonlet was hidden earlier. However, a new data-processing algorithm developed by Anthony Berdeu of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand takes a fresh look at observations of Elektra from 2014.

Berdeu's algorithms confirmed the two previously known moons as well as the fainter third moon which is no longer hidden by the main asteroid Elektra's brightness. The findings of the research titled "First observation of a quadruple asteroid" was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics last week.

The latest discovery will help astronomers to understand how these asteroid moons form and will provide crucial information about planetary formation and evolution of our own solar system.

The Elektra asteroid system might be the first of its kind to be discovered, but it is speculated that there are many more out there. Berdeu's data analysis method can help to find other quadruples hiding out in archival telescope data. 

Know everything about Elektra asteroid system 

Elektra is located in the main asteroid belt of the solar system between Mars and Jupiter. It has an unusual nature. It was first discovered by Litchfield Observatory astronomer Christian Peters on February 17, 1873 and its first moon was discovered in 2003 by Dr. William Merline and his team. The second moon was discovered on December 6, 2014 by Dr. Bin Yang and his team, using the SPHERE facility on ESO's Very Large Telescope. And now the third moon has been discovered, making Elektra a quadruple asteroid system. The Elektra asteroid has an effective diameter of 199 km..

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First Published Date: 18 Feb, 09:46 IST