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New Asteroid Discovered, Lutetia is 75 Miles Long

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By Vincent Funaro, Christian Post Reporter
October 27, 2011|4:01 pm

Spacecrafts exploring the outer limits of the Universe have come across Lutetia, an asteroid that is 75-miles long and 47-miles wide.

The exploration and quest to find asteroids usually leads astronauts to discover remains, but in the case of Lutetia, scientists were given a big surprise.

The massive Lutetia was discovered by Europe’s Rosetta probe which flew by it last year, according to Discovery News.

This asteroid appeared to look more like a protoplanet, or leftover block from the formation of the solar system due to is dense body and size.

“It could represent the missing link between smaller asteroids and dwarf-planets, like Ceres or Vesta, or planets,” said astronomer Fabrizio Capaccioni, with the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome to Discovery News.

Protoplanets need to withstand the heavy impacts of the early solar system in order to survive. Lutetia is the smallest size it could possibly be to have made it through intact, according to computer models.

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Scientists examining the asteroid are not sure if it migrated from another area in the solar system or if it originated where it was found. However, they do know that Lutetia is not the largest asteroid in the universe.

“It’s just the largest visited at that time,” said astronomer Holger Sierks, with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany to Discovery News.

 

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