From ESO: “Not the mother of meteorites”

ESO 50 Large

European Southern Observatory

19 June 2017
NO writer credit found.

The region between Mars and Jupiter is teeming with rocky worlds called asteroids. This asteroid belt is estimated to contain millions of small rocky bodies, and between 1.1 and 1.9 million larger ones spanning over one kilometre across. Small fragments of these bodies often fall to Earth as meteorites. Interestingly, 34% of all meteorites found on Earth are of one particular type: H-chondrites. These are thought to have originated from a common parent body — and one potential suspect is the asteroid 6 Hebe, shown here.

Approximately 186 kilometres in diameter and named for the Greek goddess of youth, 6 Hebe was the sixth asteroid ever to be discovered. These images were taken during a study of the mini-world using the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which aimed to test the idea that 6 Hebe is the source of H-chondrites.

ESO/SPHERE extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the VLT

Astronomers modelled the spin and 3D shape of 6 Hebe as reconstructed from the observations, and used their 3D model to determine the volume of the largest depression on 6 Hebe — likely an impact crater from a collision that could have created numerous daughter meteorites. However, the volume of the depression is five times smaller than the total volume of nearby asteroid families with H-chondrite composition, which suggests that 6 Hebe is not the most likely source of H-chondrites after all.

1
Credit: ESO/M. Marsset

Research paper

See the full article here .

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ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

ESO LaSilla
ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

ESO VLT
VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO Vista Telescope
ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO NTT
ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

ESO VLT Survey telescope
VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ALMA Array
ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres

ESO E-ELT
ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m

ESO APEX
APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert

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