Asteroid Bennu Spins Faster Due To Mysterious Causes

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It seems that on a distant space rock that’s being explored by a NASA probe, the days are slowly getting shorter and the experts are still not sure what’s causing this.

The asteroid we’re referring at is asteroid Bennu, and it’s spinning once every 4.3 hours.

But the experts who are working on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the space rock have been using the data gathered before the probe’s arrival in order to calculate the asteroid’s rotation rate. This is speeding up over time by about 1 second per century.

“As it speeds up, things ought to change, and so we’re going to be looking for those things and detecting this speed up gives us some clues as to the kinds of things we should be looking for,” Mike Nolan, lead author on the new research said in an official statement.

He continued and explained that “We should be looking for evidence that something was different in the fairly recent past.”

Experts don’t know the cause of this faster spinning 

The new research is not based on the numbers from that probe, but instead, it’s looking at the data that has been collected from the ground-based telescopes between the years 1999 and 2005 and also by the Hubble telescope back in 2012.

This last data made experts really curious because it seems that it did not line up with the predictions that have been calculated by astronomers who had the ground data available.

“You couldn’t make all three of them fit quite right,” Nolan said. “That was when we came up with this idea that it had to be accelerating.”

Space.com notes that despite the fact that this is not an unknown phenomenon, it is a rare one and the first time scientists saw this again was back in 2007 when another asteroid rotation was speeding. With Bennu, experts don’t know the cause yet.