Very Large Telescope Images 42 of the Biggest Asteroids in Our Solar System

Very Large Telescope Images 42 of the Biggest Asteroids in Our Solar System

The asteroids range from the very dense ones, like Kalliope and Psyche, to some of the least dense, like Sylvia and Lamberta. The smallest two asteroids in this group are Ausonia and Urania, which each measure about 55 miles wide. The largest asteroid, Ceres, is 584 miles across, large enough that it is considered a dwarf planet.

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All of these objects offer insights about the primordial soup that forged them; for example, the research team found that the least dense asteroids of the 42 most likely formed farther out than their denser brethren, somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune, and eventually migrated inward to their current locations.

Two of the 42 asteroids imaged by the Very Large Telescope.

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“Our observations provide strong support for substantial migration of these bodies since their formation. In short, such tremendous variety in their composition can only be understood if the bodies originated across distinct regions in the Solar System,” said Josef Hanuš of the Charles University in Prague and one of the authors of the study, in the ESO release.

And if you’re impressed by the Very Large Telescope, just wait until the Extremely Large Telescope becomes operational later in the 2020s. That telescope will gather 20 times more light than a unit of the Very Large Telescope, allowing astronomers to see fainter objects better than they currently can. (Alas, the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope never made it past the concept phase.)

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Ausonia and Urania.

More: A Fight Over a Sacred Mountaintop Will Shape the Future of Astronomy

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