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Two miracles were made at the same time when NASA scientists decided to take advantage of all the capabilities of the James Webb super telescope to unravel the mystery of the object called Chariklo.
According to the sheet Space, Chariklo is a mysterious object belonging to the group of “centaurs” with an unstable orbit in the “outer solar system”, that is, the distant region from the orbit of Jupiter to Neptune.
The so-called “centaurs” – or centaurs, a Greek-type god-like creature crossed between a horse and a man – is due to the hybrid nature of objects like Chariklo: Half asteroid, half comet.
Chariklo and the bright, distant star that it created “mystery” from Earth’s perspective – Photo: NASA/ESA/CSA
Since October 2022, the James Webb super telescope, operated by NASA, with the support of ESA and CSA (European and Canadian space agency) has studied Chariklo, but encountered many difficulties because it’s too small and too far away to photograph directly.
Therefore, the NASA team of scientists decided to use a method of astronomical observations called “occultation”. It is a phrase derived from the Arabic word “ghayba”, referring to a mythical figure born and then hidden, then reappears and carries a noble mission to the world.
In astronomy, this “occult” refers to an indirect but powerful method of observing objects like Chariklo: Find a bright bright star that Chariklo is likely to conceal as it passes in front. perspective from Earth.
Variations in that bright star’s light from the time it was “hidden” by Chariklo until its re-emergence will yield incredibly valuable data about what is creating the mystery.
The team of scientists from NASA calculates that there is a 50% chance that James Webb will find that bright enough star. They were lucky.
Clearly observing Chariklo was already a feat, but a second feat occurred when James Webb captured even the clearest signs of water freezing on the asteroid.
Water is considered the cradle of life on all habitable planets. The theory that life and life elements were brought to Earth through asteroids and comets has long been supported: Some carry water as seeds of oceans, rivers and streams; Some bring the building blocks of life to the world that has been awarded that country.
Objects like Chariklo will testify to “water ships” from space that have helped Earth – and other habitable planets – qualify to receive and nurture life.
That water is also protected by special processes in the asteroid’s body from high-energy cosmic rays in deep space: the edge of the solar system, even coming from interstellar space. .
In NASA’s statement of the two feats, astronomer Dean Hines from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI, which runs NASA space telescope missions including Hubble, James Webb, Nancy) Grace Roman) said: “Because high-energy particles transform ice from crystalline to amorphous, the detection of crystalline ice suggests that Chariklo undergoes continuous microscopic collisions that expose pristine material. or activate crystallization”.
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