Sunlight makes asteroids spin faster

Posted on Saturday, Mar 10 2007 @ 01:10 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Scientists found evidence that solar power has an impact on how fast an asteroid spins, it can make it spin either faster or slower:
"The solar system is a very dynamic place, and our star affects all worlds—even small ones," said Patrick Taylor, a graduate student at Cornell University in New York State.

Taylor co-authored two studies that will appear tomorrow in the early online journal Science Express.

The third study, led by Mikko Kaasalainen of the University of Helsinki in Finland, appears today in the early online edition of the journal Nature.

All three papers looked at a phenomenon called the YORP (Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack) effect.

When the sun warms an asteroid's surface, the rocky object reradiates heat into the void.

Heat emissions produce a slight recoil that alters the asteroid's spin—the same principle by which light shined on a pinwheel can sometimes cause it to rotate even without a breeze.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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