Space: 16 Psyche is rusting
Astronomers think that 16 Psyche is the exposed core of a full planet that didn’t make it all the way, and we’re itching to know more about it. NASA will be sending a probe to check it out in the next few years, and in the meantime, scientists are working to glean what they can from Earth.
Now, for the first time, 16 Psyche has been studied in ultraviolet wavelengths using the Hubble Space Telescope, revealing that, just as we thought, the dense chunk of space rock is remarkably metallic.
“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” said planetary scientist Tracy Becker of the Southwest Research Institute.
“Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our Solar System and lost its mantle and crust.”