Fore! Huge Asteroid Belt Golf Ball

The asteroid Pallas, imaged by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (European Southern Observatory / Vernazza et al., Nature Astronomy, 2020)

The Most Cratered Object in the Asteroid Belt Looks Like a Golf Ball

by Katherine J. Wu/

Astronomers just snapped the best images yet of Pallas, one of the solar system’s most infamous asteroids—and it seems the pictures illustrate the object’s remarkably violent past.

Boasting a width of about 318 miles—about 15 percent of the moon’s diameter—Pallas makes up a whopping 7 percent of the total mass of the asteroid belt. Researchers have known about this absolute cosmic unit, which whirls around the sun with a tiny entourage of smaller objects, for more than two centuries. But in spite of its size, the asteroid has proved difficult to study.

Now, with the help of the SPHERE instrument at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, a team of researchers has homed in on some of the beauty marks speckling the asteroid’s surface. Their findings, described in a study published this week in Nature Astronomy, reveal Pallas as the most cratered object in the asteroid belt—a title it’s almost certainly earned by bashing into some of its neighbors.

“This first detailed images of the Pallas suggest that the asteroid had a violent past,” study author Franck Marchis, a planetary scientist at MIT, says in a statement.

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Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, two rescue pups, and two guinea pigs.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013

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