NASA has discovered a strange asteroid using the Hubble space telescope. The asteroid is called P/2013 P5 and NASA describes it as “weird and freakish.” What’s so odd about this asteroid is that it’s spewing six different streams of material into space.
NASA discovered the asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter spewing matter from its surface using the Hubble Space Telescope on September 10. A second image taken on September 23 showed the asteroid appeared to spun around significantly.
Scientist David Jewitt from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of California says that his team has an idea of how the asteroid began to exhibit such strange characteristics.
One idea was that we were seeing ice on the asteroid outgassing, but the object is too hot, around 170 Kelvin, for ice. An impact with the asteroid was discussed but that would leave one large plume, not six.
The scientists believe that the reason for the asteroid outgassing so much surface material is because it’s spinning so quickly that it’s breaking apart under the strain. The scientists believe that the rapid spin is likely caused by hundreds of thousands of years of slight pressure from solar emissions. Protons and radiation emitted by the sun is able to push against objects in its Heliosphere and asteroids of for certain shape those missions cause rotation. Since there is no friction in space and pressure from the sun is continual, these asteroids spin faster and faster until they disintegrate under the force.
In astronomy, where you find one, you eventually find a whole bunch more. This is an amazing object and almost certainly the first of many more to come.
SOURCE: The Register