Crossing the orbit of the Earth, it is huge and unusually blue. Scientists have revealed the secret of the asteroid Phaethon

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A number of asteroids roam the solar system. Some are very interesting. One of them is 3200 Phaethon. The serial number suggests that some Friday has passed since his discovery – specifically, it happened in 1983.

Phaethon is an Apollo-type asteroid, which means that it crosses the Earth’s orbit and gets farther from the Sun than the Earth. Its trajectory is quite elongated with an eccentricity of almost 0.9. It is closest to the Sun at a distance of 21 million kilometers, the furthest beyond the orbit of Mars to a distance of 190 million kilometers.

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Phaethon asteroid orbit. Photo: JPL

Blue asteroid

In 2018, observations revealed that about five kilometers large Phaethon was blue. This is extremely rare because most asteroids are gray or red.

As Phaethon approaches the Sun, its surface heats up to 800 degrees Celsius. According to a new study, this heat triggers a chain of chemical reactions that evaporate substances rich in iron and red organic compounds.

He likes to be a comet

Phaethon likes to be comets and quite possibly a comet – dead, ex or rocky. It resembles a comet not only in its eccentric orbit but also in hue – there are more blue asteroids, but Phaethon is the most blue of all.

And some comets are blue. Recently, something resembling a dusty tail was seen in him. It is possible that the sun’s heat causes mud-like cracks in the dry bottom of the lake.

We can then observe meteor showers in the Earth’s sky during the year. In their vast majority of cases, comets are their source. Phaethon is the source body of the meteor swarm Geminida, which has a maximum in mid-December.

In two years, the Japanese probe DESTINY + will launch for Phaethon. The asteroid will fly 4 years later. Phaethon also flies around the Earth. The closest to us will be in December 2093 at a distance of 3 million kilometers.



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