Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New discovered PHA: 2011 GM44

The Mpec circular 2011-G45 issued on April 06, 2011 announced the discovery of a new PHA asteroid officially designated 2011 GM44. This asteroid (~ magnitude 16) was discovered by R. H. McNaught through the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring, on images obtained on April 05.4, 2011. After posting on the Minor Planet Center's 'NEOCP' webpage, other CCD astrometrists have been able to follow-up the new object to define its orbit.

According to the preliminay orbit, 2011 GM44 is an Aten type asteroid. This class of asteroids are defined by having semi-major axes of less than one astronomical unit (the distance from the Earth to the Sun). It is also flagged as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid". PHA are asteroids larger than approximately 100m that might have threatening close approaches to the Earth (they can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU)

2011 GM44 had a close approach with Earth on April 01, 2011 at rougly 0.0234AU.

We have been able to follow it while still on the neocp using a the Tzec Maun Foundation scope: the Takahashi TOA-150 f/7.3 refractor + CCD (located near Moorook, Australia).

Our confirming image (click on it for a bigger version):

Below you can see an animation showing the fast (the object was moving at 13.5 "/min) movement of 2011 GM44 on the sky on April 05, 2011. Each frame is a single 20-second exposure. Click on the thumbnail below to see the animation:

You can download the .avi file (~ 13 MB) here:

by Giovanni Sostero and Ernesto Guido

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