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News Release Archive:

News Release 589 of 959

September 14, 2000 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2000-31

Centaur's Bright Surface Spot Could be Crater of Fresh Ice

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Video: Centaur's Crater

Artist's Concept Running Time: 14 seconds

This is an artist's impression of object called 8405 Asbolus, a 48-mile-wide (80-kilometer) chunk of ice and dust that lies between Saturn and Uranus. Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope were surprised to find that one side of the object (also called a Centaur) looks like it has a fresh crater less than 10 million years old, exposing bright underlying ice Hubble didn't directly see the crater - the object is too small and far away - but a measure of its surface composition shows a complex chemistry. The event that caused the impact crater on 8405 Asbolus may also have knocked it out of the Kuiper belt, a ring of comet nuclei just beyond Pluto's orbit.

Illustration Credit: Greg Bacon (STScI/AVL)

Research Credit: Donald W. McCarthy and Susan D. Kern (University of Arizona)

Selected still images from this video (click to enlarge):