A team of astronomers has captured the most detailed images of the asteroid Kleopatra. Thanks to photographs taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT), experts were able to determine the 3D shape and mass of the asteroid.
Initial sightings of the celestial object made scientists conclude that the asteroid is shaped like a dog bone. In addition, the said asteroid has moons orbiting around it. Astronomer Frank Marchis and his colleagues named the moons AlexHelios and CleoSelene, after the Egyptian queen’s children when they initially discovered their existence in 2008.
Using the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument on ESO’s VLT, astronomers viewed Kleopatra from different angles to create the most accurate 3D model to date. From the model, experts were able to determine the length of the asteroid to be about 270 kilometers. In addition, one of its lobes was larger than the other.
Image credit: European Southern Observatory