Asteroid 2024 BX1 is the fastest-spinning space rock ever recorded

An asteroid that tore through Germany’s atmosphere in January was orbiting faster than any near-Earth object ever recorded, new research has revealed.

A space rock named 2024 BX1 entered Earth’s atmosphere and burst into flames over Berlin in the early hours of January 21, 2024.

Although small asteroids are mostly detected when they collide with Earth, scientists detected this three hours before impact.

Fastest spin ever seen

A step new paper, This is not only unique to the asteroid. Traveling at 31,000 mph (50,000 km/hr), the asteroid was spinning once every 2.6 seconds, the fastest spin ever seen by an asteroid, according to researchers.

Before this, a flying rock called 2020 HS7 set the record for the fastest spin. It had a rotation time of 2.99 seconds. Its diameter ranged between 13 and 24 feet (4 to 8 meters), slightly larger than 2024 BX1.

Size matters, and the tiny 2024 BX1 was rolling faster than its predecessor.

Why do asteroids rotate?

There are many reasons why asteroids spin. Some of them include being re-launched into space after collision. Due to their compact nature, smaller ones rotate faster compared to their larger counterparts.

In the words of lead author Maxime Devogele, a physicist at the University of Central Florida who works with the European Space Agency, „they have internal strength, so they spin faster.”

Devogel and his team analyzed the rotation speeds of three asteroids, including 2024 BX1, using images taken as they approached Earth.

2013 CX1 and 2024 EF are other asteroids described based on close calls with Earth on February 13, 2023 and March 4, 2024, respectively.

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method

Researchers have developed a new technique to visualize the dizzying rotation vortices of asteroids.

Aperture Light – This method involves adjusting the size of the aperture to allow light to enter the camera to keep the starry background sharp and appear as a trail of asteroid light.

Scientists often adjust the exposure time so that both the flying rock and the space region behind it are crisp.

„Instead of tracking the asteroid’s motion, leading to stars appearing in the images, we observed the asteroid using sidetracking and allowed it to sweep across the asteroid field,” the researchers shared in the paper.

Due to the long exposure time, the resulting images show 2024 BX1 trailing against the starry sky. „The advantage of this technique is that it allows [us] to extract the brightness of the object over time in single images,” the researchers noted.

„We show that this technique works and is very useful for detecting fast-rotating asteroids.”

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Khairika Mitra Khairika is a tech nerd, an introvert and an avid reader. Lock her in a room full of books and you’ll never hear her complain.

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