(Photo : ESO/Vernazza et al. )
These images were taken by ESO's SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-Contrast Exoplanet Research) instrument, installed on the Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory, Chile.

Images of an asteroid that with a strange surface was taken by scientists and dubbed the asteroid as "golf ball." The asteroid was given the name due to the heavy craters on its surface, and it is also the most heavily cratered asteroid on the asteroid belt.

According to the researchers that discovered the space stone, in addition to the craters found on the surface, a mysterious bright spot was also seen on the asteroid and described that it was like finding a new world.

First discovered in 1802, the space rock is known as Pallas, and is also the third-biggest object in the asteroid belt. The rock is about a seventh of the moon's size yet most of its characteristics and details have remained mysterious. Recently, scientists have revealed images of the asteroid with the holey surface, and also stated that they could help uncover its mysteries.

The latest observations of Pallas were taken at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile with the use of an adaptive optics system known as SPHERE or Spectro-Polarimetric High-Contrast Exoplanet Research.

After centuries since it was discovered, astronomers have noted that the "golf ball" asteroid takes a strange route as it travels through the asteroid belt, it was noted that the asteroid followed a tilted journey compared to other space rocks surrounding it. This makes researches speculate that the holey surface may be a result of its orbit, since it has to smash other space rocks as it travels around the sun. Its angle even causing major damage on its surface during collisions, thus giving it deep and heavy craters.

The scientists also found a crater on the surface of Pallas which was approximately 400 kilometers wide, research suggests that a crater like that would have resulted from a collision about 1.7 billion years ago when Pallas was supposedly hit by an object which was about 20 and 40 kilometers wide and would have thrown the pieces into space.

Also read: Planet-Killing Asteroid Is Currently Hurdling Towards Earth, ETA Saturday Morning

Apart from the huge variety of holes, scientists also discovered a bright spot on the surface of the "golf ball" asteroid. Whilst scientists still do not know where the light is coming from, theory suggests that it comes from a huge chunk of salt which may have been exposed due to Pallas' frequent collisions.

According to the researchers, the observations on Pallas further suggests that its bulk density is compatible with a CM chondrite-like body which is distinguished by their density and mineral content.

According to Michaël Marsset, lead author of the research about Pallas, many have proposed missions to study the asteroid using small and cheap satellites. He further added that there is no assurance yet that this would happen. However, if these missions push through, it could answer questions about the golf ball asteroid and its mysterious bright spot.

In order to completely understand the characteristics, composition and mysteries of the asteroid dubbed as "golf ball", further studies and research is needed. However, these recent discoveries may just be the beginning of finally understanding the universe around us.

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