Friday, July 1

They discover the origin of 21 satellites of the planet Saturn | Digital Trends Spanish


A discovery about the origin of 21 satellites of the Planet Saturn Chilean astronomers made, discarding one of the existing theories about the Neptune.

Until now it was thought that these objects had the same origin as the asteroids found beyond Neptune, but two Chilean scientists discovered that the reality was very different. “These satellites have a key characteristic: They are irregular,” explains César Fuentes, an academic from the Department of Astronomy FCFM of the University of Chile and Ph.D in Astrophysics from Harvard University. They are objects that were captured by a planet and that follow distant and eccentric orbits. To determine their origin, together with José Peña, Doctor of Sciences with a mention in Astronomy from the University of Chile, they decided to put their eyes on them.

“The characteristics of the orbits of the studied satellites, the so-called irregular ones, indicate that they are bodies that were captured by planets from other parts of the Solar System and not from the regions near Neptune as was thought until now,” adds José Peña.

“To carry out this study we use what in astronomy we call color, which is the comparison of brightness in different ranges of light”, explains Peña. The investigation thus reached the conclusion that the origin of the 21 objects analyzed is very different from that of the asteroids beyond Neptune, therefore, we would be in the evolution scenarios of the Solar System, it would be another than what astrophysics thought it was.

To reach these results, a technique was used, with which it is possible to observe and distinguish objects that shine very little when they are close to much brighter bodies, and this same technique is useful for many areas of astronomy, being able, for example, to facilitate the discovery of exoplanets close to other stars. Although for now they plan to study with this methodology images that they have of satellites that surround Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

Both astronomers used observations made at the Víctor M. Blanco telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory using DECam (Dark Energy Camera, or Dark Energy Camera in Spanish), a process that lasted four days of data capture, but which were analyzed for a period greater than 12 months. “The analysis of the images was especially challenging as it required a very careful treatment of the images, where the detection of very faint sources (the satellites) was achieved while being so close to a much brighter source (Saturn)”, concludes Peña.

The results of this research were published in The Astronomical Journal in the article “Colors of Irregular Satellites of Saturn with DECam” (“Colors of Irregular Satellites of Saturn with DECam”), which can be read in the following link.

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