Centaur (minor Planet)
Centaurs are an unstable orbital class of minor planets that behave with characteristics of both asteroids and comets. They are named after the mythological race of beings, centaurs, which were a mixture of horse and human. Centaurs have transient orbits that cross or have crossed the orbits of one or more of the giant planets, and have dynamic lifetimes of a few million years. It has been estimated that there are around 44,000 centaurs in the Solar System with diameters larger than 1 km.
The first centaur-like object to be discovered was 944 Hidalgo in 1920. However, they were not recognized as a distinct population until the discovery of 2060 Chiron in 1977. The largest known centaur is 10199 Chariklo, discovered in 1997, which at 260 km in diameter is as big as a mid-sized main-belt asteroid.
No centaur has been photographed up close, although there is evidence that Saturn's moon Phoebe, imaged by the Cassini probe in 2004, may be a captured centaur. In addition, the Hubble Space Telescope has gleaned some information about the surface features of 8405 Asbolus.
As of 2008, three centaurs have been found to display cometary comas: Chiron, 60558 Echeclus, and 166P/NEAT. Chiron and Echeclus are therefore classified as both asteroids and comets. Other centaurs such as 52872 Okyrhoe are suspected of showing cometary activity. Any centaur that is perturbed close enough to the Sun is expected to become a comet.
Other articles related to "centaurs":
... Well-known centaursinclude Name Year Discoverer Half-life forward)Class 55576 Amycus 2002 NEAT at Palomar 11.1 Myr UE 54598 Bienor 10370 ... Hylonome 1995 Mauna Kea Observatory 6.3 Myr UN 10199 Chariklo 1997 ... Scotti)0.86 Myr SN 7066 Nessus 1993 Spacewatch David L ... Rabinowitz)4.9 Myr SE 5145 Pholus 1992 Spacewatch David L ...
Famous quotes containing the word centaur:
“The ants a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace.
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.”
—Ezra Pound (18851972)