Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 8:37 EDT
Sunlight Spawns Binary Asteroids Image 1
962 of 3476

Sunlight Spawns Binary Asteroids (Image 1)

May 1, 2012
An artist's rendering of an asteroid pair during its short-lived, proto-binary phase, that may last less than 1 million years. In these unstable proto-binary systems, the primary typically has a diameter of a few kilometers, while the companion is 60 percent or less the size of the primary. Shortly after its formation, the secondary will gently escape, resulting in two asteroids that share the same orbit around the sun. Credit: ESO/L. Calcada