Elektra is the first quadruple asteroid system discovered by man

The information is not new in itself (the discovery dates from November 2021), but the ESO (European Southern Observatory) has somehow just confirmed it with a superb supporting video: Elektra is the first quadruple asteroid system to have been detected by humans. The first two “moons” of asteroid Elektra, S/2003 (130) and S/2014 (130) were discovered in 2003 and 2014, the first thanks to data from the M. Keck II telescope at Mauna Kea (Hawaii). ), the second thanks to Very Large Telescope (VLT) from ESO. Elektra’s third moon, tentatively named S/2014(130)2, was unearthed on November 6, 2021 by a team of researchers led by Anthony Berdeu of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand.

Elektra: when the moons meet the moon

As a reminder, Elektra is an asteroid 182 kilometers in diameter which was discovered in 1873 (yes!) in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery of the third moon of Elektra will have required the analysis of data from the SPHERE instrument of the ESO VLT in Paranal (Chile). SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch) has an extreme adaptive optics system that allows heavy optical corrections to be made in real time. The research team also used two state-of-the-art algorithms to process the raw data delivered by the instrument. Other quadruple asteroid systems must of course exist elsewhere in the universe, but Elektra will forever remain the first detected by man…

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