Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Virtual Impactor Minor Planet 2008 HJ

After its posting on the NEO Confirmation Page with the NEO-Confirmation Page with code BK08329, follow-up was secured by a number of observers, among which our osservatory (M.P.C. Code #473).

M.P.E.C. 2008-H26, issued on 2008 April 25 , 20:51 U.T. , has announced the discovery of 2008 HJ: this is the tempoarary designation of the object, by the M.P.C. observatory code #704 Lincoln Laboratory ETS.

After few days, the asteroid has been catalogued as a "virtual impactor", because it has a very little probability that its orbit could be a threat for our planet; however currently it is flagged with a level "0" in the Torino scale. This situation could change, so these kind of minor planets are kept under strict monitoring by two istitutions , that are collecting the updated astrometric measurements about 2008 HJ : the Neo Object Program and Neo Dys Risk Page.

As suggested by the Minor Planet Center, it is mandatory to perform futher follow-up of this asteroid in next months, in order to improve the knowledge of its orbit with new measures. This is important to reduce the uncertains on orbital parameters and to confirm that 2008 HJ really belongs to the 0 class of Torino scale, that rappresents a very low level of hazard.

The image below of 2008 HJ has been obtained by Remanzacco Observatory team in the same day of its discovery.

At the time of discovery, 2008 HJ had the smallest known rotation period in the Solar System, completing one revolution every 42.7 seconds (see lightcurve below).

Credit: R. Miles

by Ernesto Guido

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