2015 TC25 – Scientists observed the smallest near-Earth asteroid ever

This asteroid is so small, it could fit in your living room.

At 2 meters in diameter, it’s a small, bright piece of natural space debris.

Astronomers observed the smallest near-Earth asteroid ever characterized, a 6.5 foot (2 meter) diameter asteroid smaller than most cars.

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ARIZONA, University of Arizona – (Astronomy Magazine) This asteroid, called 2015 TC25, also reflects 60 percent of light that falls onto it, making it not only the smallest asteroid, but also the brightest near-Earth asteroid. 

2015 TC25 was discovered last October by a team led by assistant professor as the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Vishnu Reddy, Lowell Observatory, and Northern Arizona University using Earth-based telescopes.

Last year’s discovery was published this month in the Astronomical Journal.

The team found 2015 TC25 using Lowell’s 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope, NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility, and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory 2.4-meter telescope.

Using these resources, they found out that the asteroid has a rotational period of 2.23 minutes along with its irregular shape.

Reddy said in a press release that new observations show the asteroid’s surface is similar to aubrites, a highly reflective meteorite made of bright minerals.

Aubrite is typically formed in oxygen-free environments at extremely high temperatures and are fairly rare; One out of every 1,000 meteorites, to be exact.

“This is the first time we have optical, infrared, and radar date on such a small asteroid, which is essentially a meteoroid,” Reddy said in a press release. “You can think of it as a meteorite floating in space that hasn’t hit the atmosphere and made it to the ground – yet.”

Reddy believes 2015 TC25 was probably chipped off of its parent, 44 Nysa, by impact from another rock.

Stephen Tegler, co-author of the study and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northern Arizona University, said in a press release it’s important to study near-Earth asteroids because of the threats they can pose to us.

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Story:

Materials provided by University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Vishnu Reddy, Lowell Observatory, and Northern Arizona University. Original written by Nicole Kiefert. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.