3200 Phaethon – Outlandish Blue Space Rock   14 comments

Rare Blue Asteroid 3200 Phaethon

AsteroidsTo observe a blue asteroid is an extraordinary occurrence, and to stumble on a blue comet is an unprecedented phenomenon. Asteroid (3200) Phaethon is an outlandish blue-coloured asteroid which in addition has been discerned to be acting on occasion in much the same way as a comet, and it is proving to be well beyond the mysterious and remarkable status that its international investigators originally credited it with.

Most asteroids range in colour from lacklustre grey to varying shades of red, depending on the nature of their physical surface matter. Phaethon is not only one of the very few rare blue asteroids in our galaxy but furthermore, looks to be one of the most outstanding shades of blue amongst celestial bodies of its kind, including comets.

Orbit of 3200 Phaethon
Orbit of 3200 Phaethon – Image Credit: By Tomruen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64315495

Phaethon’s blue colouring is derived from reflecting extra blue-end spectrum light and is unvarying across the whole of its surface, suggesting it has relatively recently taken a roasting by the Sun. The implication is further enforced by the surface temperature of Phaeton which can be an aluminium-melting 800 degrees C, (1,500 degrees F) approximately, due to capacity of its decidedly eccentric orbit to bring Phaethon bringing it into such close vicinity of the Sun.

Phaethon has the typical appearance of an asteroid in the night sky (a dot) despite that the standard implications say that it is a dead comet (indistinct sphere and a tail). It also appears to be where the December Geminids meteor shower springs from. Phaeton was detected in 1983, up to which point meteor showers were connected with active comets rather than asteroids in scientific circles.

Phaethon has proved something of an enigma enjoying both asteroid qualities and the appearance and behaviour of a comet. The result being that it’s hard to say which one it bears the closest resemblance to. It is alone, other than one other celestial body in the galaxy in discharging a miniature tail of dust at its nearest point to the sun. Consequently, the distinguishing features customarily understood to single out comets from asteroids suddenly became very unclear.

It is possible that Phaethon could either be a relative of, or even an actual broken-off chunk of another blue asteroid known as Pallas. A large and much more distant asteroid, Pallas has been observed to be approximately twice as reflective as Phaethon which itself has proved many shades darker than it had first been considered to be.  However, this does nothing to help in explaining the potential relationship between asteroids Phaethon and Pallas.

Another possible Phaethon relative, is 2005 UD, small blue asteroid also under observation by astronomers, along with Phaethon, to decipher the mysteries inherent in these two blue asteroids and discover whether the same rare properties exist in them both. Such research and its future results will support astronomer’s efforts to figure-out the secrets of the enigmatic blue asteroid Phaethon.

Sources:  University of Arizona, https://www.sciencedaily.com (“Rare blue asteroid reveals itself during fly-by.”)


Posted November 12, 2018 by europasicewolf in Astronomy

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14 responses to “3200 Phaethon – Outlandish Blue Space Rock

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  1. How fascinating and wonderful to see a post from you in my reader!

    • I know! I know! It’s as rare as a blue space rock these days! Delighted to know you were so awestruck with my presence in your reader! 😉 It should be gracing yours soon…that will be a truly awe-inspiring experience for you!! 😉 🙂 😉

  2. I enjoy a little mystery. I suggest we pack some liver cake and go take a peek – it might be made of blue cheese!

    • You’ll always find a little mystery with an Ice Wolf! You have some great suggestions Clowie 😉 I’ll go pack that liver cake right now…in my tummy!!! Oops! Shouldn’t have said that 😉 Blue cheese though?….hmm….smellyyyyyy!!!! Strong and odourful!! I do hope that space rock doesn’t pong like blue cheese!! 😉 🙂

  3. Wow! That was very interesting and fascinating. I’m glad to see you again.

    • Ooh thanks! I guess just the fact there’s a Wolfie post at all is a matter for celebration! Or possibly something a little less flattering 😉 depending on your point of view!! Lovely to see you anyway, it’s good to be back among you all 🙂

  4. Spännande inlägg som alltid hos dig Wolfie..
    Hoppas att allt är bra med dig..Ha en fin fortsättning på denna mörka och gråa November vecka
    Kram // Nicki

    • Tack Nicki! Jag hoppas allt är bra med dig. Det är en mörk november natt och väldigt våt. Jag gillar det inte! Men våra träd har fortfarande gyllene löv, så inte alla dåliga;) Kram Wolfie 🙂

  5. Idag är jag glad Wolfie jag ser en stor sol ☀ idag det är första gången denna månad.. Ha en riktigt fin helg nu Kram Nicki 😄

  6. Blue is my favorite color.

  7. Finally, Icewolf, I get to comment!
    Do you remember the time I got stuck in the bath with those blue bubble bath ice cubes I made? The water set like blue cement? Well, after I chipped myself out, the ‘water’ strangely vanished. I’m wondering if this is where my bubble bath went to…? Just a thought. ( https://wp.me/pVkLb-19B here, if you’ve forgotten! 😀 )
    If it’s not my bubble bath, then a brilliant blue asteroid is a wonder to behold indeed… I shall look out for it. I won’t hold my breath, however, because knowing my luck I’ll never see it… just like the Geminids or other ‘nids I’ve looked out for in the past.
    Another interesting post of yours, Icewolf… fabulous!

    • I do actually remember your bubble bath post😅 I shall pay a return visit though just to ensure I haven’t missed anything🛁😛I have a post just about ready to go…still trying to find time to post it!🕰🌓

    • Certain hope the blue bubble bath didn’t get involved with the asteroid!! But when it comes to your concoctions anything can happen😀Tried to leave a comment on the post but I have to login it would seem and I don’t know my password if I have to do it manually! 😉

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