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Astronomers just discovered something incredible about what they thought was a run-of-the-mill asteroid

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In late June the rock made its closest pass of Earth for the next 170 years, so scientists decided to spend a little more time studying it before it heads back out again. When they zoomed in on what they thought was a regular ol’ asteroid what they began to see double. 2017 YE5, it turns out, isn’t one asteroid. It’s two.

Twin asteroids are incredibly rare, at least here in our Solar System, and they’re a huge treat for scientists whenever they’re spotted. Sometimes larger asteroids are orbited by much smaller rocks, but “equal mass” asteroid pairs are particularly special. In fact, 2017 YE5 is only the fourth such binary asteroid pair ever observed.




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