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Strange Asteroid Has Six Comet-Like Tails

Strange Asteroid Has Six Comet-Like Tails

ESA Hubble
November 7, 2013

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a unique and baffling object in the asteroid belt that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler or badminton shuttlecock. While this object is on an asteroid-like orbit, it looks like a comet, and is sending out tails of dust into space.

Normal asteroids appear as tiny points of light. But this asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, has six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like the spokes on a wheel. It was first spotted in August of this year as an unusually fuzzy-looking object by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

Because nothing like this has ever been seen before, astronomers are scratching their heads to find an adequate explanation for its mysterious appearance.

 

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