Portuguese astrophysicist Nuno Bixenio names an asteroid, Discovered in 1998 which is just over 10 km in diameter, The Institute for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA), where he is a researcher, announced Monday.
The asteroid was formerly named (40210) 1998 SL56, renamed (40210) Peixinho, by decision of the Working Group on Nomenclature of the Small Legion of the International Astronomical Union (UAI).
Discovered on September 16, 1998, in an observational campaign by the Lowell Observatory, in the United States, the asteroid Peixinho belongs to the asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and it orbits around the Sun at an average distance three times greater than that which separates the Sun from Earth, and completes an orbit at about 5.3 years.
Nuno Bixinho, an astrophysicist at the University of Coimbra, is the only Portuguese in an extensive list of scientists who were attributed in June to small celestial bodies by the UAI, under the guidance of Portuguese astronomer Teresa Lago. Asteroid BixenioIt is the type of asteroid that, if it came towards Earth, could cause a mass extinction‘,” says the IA statement.
“Knowing that there is now an asteroid in space of the same size as that which, most likely, when it collided with the Earth 66 million years ago, led to the mass extinction of the Cretaceous-Paleogene, including the famous dinosaurs … leaves me without comment, I quote in the statement, Portuguese astrophysicist, who specializes in the physical and chemical properties of small bodies in the solar system.
According to the IA, there are just over a million small objects in the Solar System cataloged, and about half a million already have a permanent designation, but only 22505 have names.
small bodies in the solar systemIt is the general designation of asteroids, icy bodies (such as comets and trans-Neptune objects) and their satellites.Initially, one of these bodies receives “a provisional designation according to a well-defined formula that includes the year of discovery, two letters and, if necessary, other numbers.”
Then, “when its orbit is well defined, the object receives a permanent designation, which consists in adding a number to the temporary designation.” In the end, at the suggestion of the authors of the discovery of the small orb, the working group on the naming of small objects in the UAI assigns a name.