Archive for the ‘3200 Phaethon’ Tag

Phaethon – The Mythology   5 comments

(Image Credit: CoolCLIPS_vc051539)

Phaethon in Greek mythology was the son of Helios, the sun god, and a woman/nymph who was known among different sources as Clymene, Prote, or Rhode.

Friends of Phaethon challenged him to prove he was not illegitimate and that his father really was Helios the sun god. His mother assured him this was true and suggested he also gain confirmation from his father Helios. Phaethon decided to request from his father proof of his affiliation with the sun. Helios was happy to consent to give his son anything he wanted, but when Phaethon demanded that he should be allowed to have a whole day to drive his father’s sun chariot Helios strongly advised him not to, pointing out that even Zeus did not have the strength to handle the steeds. However, a promise was a promise and despite his misgivings Helios

CoolCLIPS_vc051539

allowed him to take charge of the chariot. As he predicted Phaethon lost control of the horses. Initially the horses climbed too high causing the Earth to freeze over. The out of control steeds then careered so close to the Earth that the chariot burned and charred the Earth. Seeing the imminent disaster and in a bid to prevent that occurrence Zeus elected to bring the chariot down with a bolt of thunder. The unfortunate consequence for Phaethon being that he plummeted down to earth and was killed at the mouth of the river Eridanus, which was later recognized as the Po.

Phaethon’s close friend or even lover, Cycnus (king of Liguria) deeply grieved his demise and so the gods transformed him into a swan. Phaethon also had seven sisters, who were known as the Heliades. They too grieved deeply for him and kept watch in the place that their brother Phaethon careered to Earth and died. This wake continued until the time when the gods transformed the sisters into Poplar trees. Their tears of grief the gods transformed into amber.

The name “Phaethon” – Greek for “Shining/Radiant One”, was given also to:

  • Phaethon (Son of Eos)
  • One of the horses of Eos (the Dawn)
  • The Sun

 

 

 

 

  • The constellation Auriga
  • The planet Jupiter (Some versions refer to the planet Saturn rather than Jupiter)
  • Used as a descriptive word to describe the sun and the moon

 

Today it is the name given to rare blue asteroid “3200 Phaethon” which orbits very close to the sun and is named after the Phaethon of Greek mythology.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaethon

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Phaethon-Greek-mythology

 

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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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