Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2017

हिंदी करंट अफेयर्स प्रश्नोत्तरी 2017 के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें.

2006 VW139/288P: Astronomers spot strange binary asteroid with comet-like features

International team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have spotted an unusual object called 2006 VW139/288P having two asteroids orbiting each other with comet-like features. These include bright halo of material, called a coma, and long tail of dust. The odd object is first known binary asteroid that is also classified as a main-belt comet.

Asteroids and comets

Asteroids and comets are believed to be ancient remnants of earliest years of formation of our solar system more than four billion years ago. Asteroids are known as inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comets are bodies of ice, rock and organic compounds that can be several miles in diametre and they can be at times active. Ice of comets can vaporise in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.

2006 VW139/288P

Hubble was used to image asteroid in September 2016 just before it made its closest approach to Sun. The images revealed that it was actually not one, but two asteroids of almost the same mass and size, orbiting each other at a distance of 96 km.

It was discovered by Spacewatch in November 2006 and its possible cometary activity was seen in November 2011 by Pan-STARRS after that it was given comet designation of 288P. The more recent Hubble observations revealed ongoing activity in binary system.

The combined features of binary asteroid are wide separation, near-equal component size, high eccentricity orbit, and comet-like activity. These make it unique among few known binary asteroids that have a wide separation.

Significance: Understanding of 2006 VW139/288P’s origin and evolution may provide new insights into early days of solar system. The main-belt comets may help to answer how water came to a bone-dry Earth billions of years ago. As it is different from all other known binary asteroids, it will also help to answer some questions about how common such systems are in the asteroid belt.

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India’s first electric bus service launched in Himachal Pradesh

India’s first electric bus service was launched at Rohtang Pass area in Himachal Pradesh. It is first of its kind electric bus service for tourist spot in India and first in world at an altitude of 13,000 feet.

The electric bus service will ply between Manali and Rohtang and there will be 10 electric buses in fleet. It was launched amid concern over environment degradation in Rohtang Pass area due to plying of diesel taxis. The initiative aims to curb carbon emission which is resulting in melting of glaciers in Himalayas.

Background

Himachal Pradesh Government was forced to introduce zero-emission transportation facility in ecologically fragile areas after National Green Tribunal (NGT) had taken stringent step of imposing restriction on entry of vehicles to Rohtang Pass. The NGT had shown concern over melting of glaciers in Rohtang Pass area as they were receding at an alarming rate of 19-20 meters per year. The entry of vehicles were restricted to 1,000 vehicles per day, including both diesel and petrol vehicles, however, electric and CNG vehicles are exempted.

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass (elevation 3,978 m) is high mountain pass on eastern Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas around 51 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh.

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