Hubble Hunts Down Binary Objects at the Fringe of Our Solar System

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope snapped pictures of a double system of icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt. This composite picture shows the apparent orbit of one member of the pair. In reality, the objects, called 1998 WW31, revolve around a common center of gravity, like a pair of waltzing skaters. This picture shows the motion of one member of the duo [the six faint blobs] relative to the other [the large white blob]. The blue oval represents the orbital path. Astronomers assembled this picture from six separate exposures, taken from July to September 2001, December 2001, and January to February 2002.

Astronomers used the Hubble telescope to study the orbit of this binary system. They then used that information to determine other characteristics of the duo, such as their total mass, and their orbital period (the time it takes them to orbit each other).

Credit:

NASA/ESA and C. Veillet (Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Id:opo0204a
Type:Chart
Release date:17 April 2002, 20:00
Size:3000 x 2400 px

About the Object

Name:1998 WW31, Kuiper Belt Object
Type:• Solar System : Interplanetary Body
• X - Solar System Images/Videos

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
R
675 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Infrared
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2

Image Formats

Large JPEG
379.6 KB
Screensize JPEG
83.2 KB

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