Portuguese schools to name asteroid in solar system


Five years after the discovery, the new asteroid has now been validated by the Minor Planet Center, after several observations in order to determine its exact orbit and position.

The students and teachers of the four Portuguese schools that discovered a new object in the solar system in 2012 will now be able to name the asteroid, recently validated by the Minor Planet Center.

“Most of the objects that are discovered wind up being lost and the fact that it was possible to define an orbit in this case is what makes the discovery so special”, Ana Costa, coordinator of the initiative in Portugal, told Lusa.

About five years after the discovery, the object has now been validated by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), after several subsequent observations to rigorously determine its orbit and position. The object was initially designated 2012 FF25, the choice of the definitive name of the new asteroid now rests with the teams of students and teachers responsible for its detection.

This discovery was part of an International Asteroid Search Collaboration (IASC) campaign at the University of Hardin-Simmons, Texas, to find small bodies in the solar system.

In Portugal, the organization of these campaigns is done by the Interactive Nucleus of Astronomy (NUCLIO).

Ana Sousa explained that during the campaign that led to the identification of the 2012 FF25, the teams analyzed the same images, collected by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, and captured with an interval of about 20 minutes, so that it was possible to identify the movement of possible objects.

After analyzing the images using specialized programs, the teams send a report of their observations to Hardin-Simmons University, responsible for confirming the discovery, by means of a second observation.

It is only when the objects have a defined orbit and position that the discovery is made official by the MPC, the center responsible for identifying, designating and monitoring the orbit of asteroids and comets.

Already official, this asteroid happens to be included in the catalog of the bodies of the solar system, and is waiting for its discoverers to choose a name.

D. Maria II Secondary School in Braga, Luís de Freitas Branco Secondary School in Paço D’Arcos, D. Inês de Castro Secondary School in Alcobaça, and Valpaços School Grouping are the four institutions responsible for the discovery.