News / Science & Technology

Hubble Space Telescope Sees Asteroid with 6 Comet-Like Tails

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope set of images from Sept. 10, 2013 reveals a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt designated P/2013 P5. (NASA, ESA, D.Jewitt/UCLA)
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope set of images from Sept. 10, 2013 reveals a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt designated P/2013 P5. (NASA, ESA, D.Jewitt/UCLA)
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Astronomers studying images from the Hubble Space Telescope have seen what they call a "weird and freakish" object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.  

Unlike other space rocks, which appear as tiny points of light, this asteroid has six comet-like tails of dust.  The tails radiate from it like the spokes of a wheel, and dramatically change their structure every two weeks.

Lead investigator David Jewitt, from the University of California, Los Angeles, says he and his colleagues were dumbfounded when they first saw it.  "It is hard to believe we're looking at an asteroid," he said.

When the asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, was discovered in August, through a land-based telescope array in Hawaii, it looked unusually fuzzy.  The more detailed image taken by Hubble in September revealed the tails.

Jewitt's team suggests the asteroid is rotating so rapidly that its surface is flying apart, spewing dust in periodic eruptions. Radiation pressure from the Sun forces the dust out into streamers.

Jewitt says it may be the main way in which small asteroids die.  He expects to find many more asteroids with tails.

News of the unusual asteroid appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid