Home > Asteroids, Astronomy, Solar System > Scientists Find First Evidence Of Dynamo Generation On An Asteroid

Scientists Find First Evidence Of Dynamo Generation On An Asteroid


Vesta asteroid taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

A new study published this week in Science has found evidence that Vesta, the second-most-massive asteroid in the solar system, once harbored a dynamo — a molten, swirling mass of conducting fluid generating a magnetic field — resembling that in much larger planets like Earth. Researchers at MIT say the findings suggest that asteroids like Vesta may have been more than icy chunks of space debris.

“We’re filling in the story of basically what happened during those first few million years of the solar system, when an entire solar system was dominated by objects like this,” says Roger Fu, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and the study’s first author. “These bodies are really like miniature planets.”

“Vesta becomes now the smallest known planetary object to have generated a dynamo,” says co-author Benjamin Weiss, an associate professor of planetary sciences in EAPS. “You can imagine many asteroids in the early solar system were doing this.”

Full Story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/scientists-discover-dynamo-on-asteroid-1011.html

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