Sharjah Astronomical Observatory Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Two new asteroids in the solar system have been discovered by the Sharjah Astronomical Observatory, under the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences, and Technology (SAASST) of University of Sharjah (UoS).

The discovery was done in collaboration with US-based Pan-Starrs Telescope and was announced during the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) by Prof. Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy, UoS Chancellor, SAASST General Director and President of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences.

The new asteroids were discovered in the solar system’s asteroid belt region, located roughly between the orbits of the planets Jupiter and Mars. The asteroid belt or main belt is different from other asteroid populations in the solar system such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids.

Mohammed Talafha, observer at SAASST’s Sharjah Astronomical Observatory, said the discovery of the asteroids was done using high-resolution images acquired from a global network of observatories that have been surveying the sky daily.

He explained: “The images were first compared with previously registered asteroids at the International Astronomical Union. This to neutralise them during the search process and distinguish unregistered moving objects through a series of 30-minute gaps in-between images as the asteroids change their position. The scientists then identified the asteroid’s movement, brightness and determined its path. A new process of observation followed to verify the asteroid’s path and try to find out its physical characteristics.”

Continuous monitoring

“The two asteroids will be monitored continuously through multiple telescopes specialised in tracking asteroids, including the telescopes at the Sharjah Astronomical Observatory, to map their orbit around the sun and know its specifications,” he noted.

Talafha added “there is an opportunity to discover more asteroids due to their large number in the main asteroid belt within the solar system using astronomical observations, research, and international scientific cooperation.

He continued: “SAASST is consistent in organising various activities that aim to serve the community by educating its various members on the most important concepts, achievements, and developments in the field of astronomy and space sciences. It also works to enable students, researchers and the general community to gain scientific information while following precautionary measures outlined by relevant authorities in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”