Why doesn't the sun have craters?
Why doesn't Hygiea have a giant crater?
The planetary researchers therefore assume that these asteroids are fragments of Hygiea that were blasted out of the mother body in a major impact a long time ago and drifted into the surrounding space. For this reason, the researchers used SPHERE, an instrument that ESO operates on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and that has an extremely high spatial resolution. With SPHERE, the astronomers searched for the scar of this catastrophic event - in vain. The scientists now suspect that the asteroid was almost completely torn apart in the impact that created his family, only to come back together again in the course of a few hours. The finely ground material arranged itself under the effect of its own gravity in an almost spherical and almost smooth celestial body without large craters.
Some of the researchers involved use the approximately spherical shape of Hygiea as an opportunity to classify the celestial body as a dwarf planet. Given a diameter of around 430 kilometers, this is an exaggerated requirement. Even the smallest official dwarf planet, Ceres, which is also located in the main asteroid belt, has a diameter of 950 kilometers and is many times the mass of Hygiea. If only the approximate spherical shape were used as a criterion for admission to the dwarf planet, a real flood of them would be imminent. In the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of the outermost planet Neptune, more than 100 other objects with larger diameters and masses are known as Hygiea, which are also approximately spherical. But since 2006, the International Astronomical Union responsible for the classification has not named any other celestial bodies besides Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Haumea and Makemake as dwarf planets.
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