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January 4, 2012

Sunlight Spawns Binary Asteroids (Image 1)

An artist's rendering of an asteroid pair during its short-lived, proto-binary phase, that may last less than 1 million years. In these unstable proto-binary systems, the primary typically has a diameter of a few kilometers, while the companion is 60 percent or less the size of the primary. Shortly after its formation, the secondary will gently escape, resulting in two asteroids that share the same orbit around the sun.

To learn more about this research, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (AST 08-07468), see the University of California, Berkeley, news story "Sunlight Spawns Many Binary and Divorced Binary Asteroids." (Date of Image: August 2010) [See related image Here.]

Credit: ESO/L. Calcada

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