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Asteroid With 6 Comet Tails Puzzles Astronomers

Science & Tech  (tags: astronomy, science, space, nasa, research, ASTEROID, discovery )

- 2018 days ago -
A strange object with half a dozen comet-like tails has been spotted in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, leaving astronomers wondering what it could be.


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Michael O (176)
Friday November 8, 2013, 9:09 pm
“We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it,” said David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of California, in a statement announcing the object’s discovery today.

Jewitt is the lead author of a scientific paper published today titled “The extraordinary multi-tailed main-belt comet P/2013 P5.”

Unlike the dusty ice balls that we normally think of as comets, P/2013 P5 probably doesn’t contain ice, said the paper, which is published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Instead, it is described as a very unusual asteroid.

“Unlike all other known asteroids, which appear simply as tiny points of light, this asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, resembles a rotating lawn sprinkler,” reported NASA in a news release today.

The asteroid, which is about 240 metres wide, was first spotted by the Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii at the end of August.

Because the object was “unusually fuzzy-looking,” scientists used the Hubble space telescope to take a more detailed image on Sept. 10, revealing the six tails.

The tails looked quite different and were pointed in different directions when astronomers observed it again on Sept. 23, suggesting that the object had rotated.

While a typical comet’s tail is formed by jets of gas and dust evaporating from the comet’s body, researchers don’t think that process is responsible for the six tails on P/2013 P5.

Alan Lambert (91)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 1:40 am
Highly weird...

Helen Porter (39)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 4:07 am
It is predicted that in the last days there will be signs in the heavens.


Past Member (0)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 10:10 am
I think it's eerily beautiful! Thx Michael

Craig D (4)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 11:26 am
i guess we'll know what it is soon enough

Süheyla C (234)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 1:35 pm
Thank you Micheal

Roger G (148)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 1:44 pm
noted, thanks

Ann Breeden (65)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 2:33 pm
I think it's quite beautiful myself.

Debra Tate (17)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 2:53 pm
Wow! interesting! Thanks

Lois Jordan (63)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 3:20 pm
Noted. Adding my thanks for this interesting info, Michael. Hope they figure it out and let us know the details.

Antonio Calabria PhD (17)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 5:44 pm

Michael M (5)
Saturday November 9, 2013, 5:57 pm
Exhaust jets from their fission drives, obviously.

Thoms B (1)
Sunday November 10, 2013, 1:14 pm
Maybe all our space junk is causing mutations! ;-)

Colleen L (3)
Sunday November 10, 2013, 10:29 pm
Really interesting. Thanks Michael

m T (2)
Monday November 11, 2013, 12:36 am
Ain't the Universe just grand?

Past Member (0)
Monday November 11, 2013, 5:03 am

Jonathan Harper (0)
Monday November 11, 2013, 6:05 am

Aileen P (39)
Monday November 11, 2013, 1:32 pm
Thank you.

Bob P (394)
Tuesday November 12, 2013, 5:38 am
Thanks Michael

Jav R (0)
Tuesday November 12, 2013, 6:48 am

Connie O (45)
Tuesday November 12, 2013, 7:11 am
Very interesting...ty

Melania P (123)
Friday November 22, 2013, 8:46 am
We just don´t know anything... Thanks for sharing

Sergio Padilla (65)
Friday November 22, 2013, 1:53 pm
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