Home » News & Blogs » Fragmented Asteroid Develops Comet-like Tails
Bookmark and Share
Centauri Dreams

Fragmented Asteroid Develops Comet-like Tails

6 Mar 2017, 16:18 UTC
Fragmented Asteroid Develops  Comet-like Tails NASA/ESA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

You wouldn’t expect main belt asteroids to develop tails like comets — their orbits are circular enough that they don’t undergo the kind of temperature swings many comets experience in their plunge toward perihelion — but we do have some twenty cases of asteroids that do exactly that. The photo below, showing imagery from the 10.4-meter Great Canary Telescope, gives us views of asteroid P/2016 G1, with a smudgy dust trail splayed out behind the object.

Image: Asteroid P/2016 G1 at three different times in 2016: late April, late May and mid June. The arrow in the center panel points out an asymmetric feature that can be explained if the asteroid initially ejected material in a single direction, perhaps due to an impact. Credit: Fernando Moreno (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain).
Moreno and team, who have specialized in the dust environment near main belt objects, have now uncovered another intriguing asteroid, this one with an even more curious tail. Asteroid P/2016 J1 turns out to be an asteroid pair, of a kind that seem to occur not infrequently in the main belt. The likely origin of the pair is an impact that broke a single asteroid into ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day