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thefinalfrontier

Hubble captures suspected asteroid collision

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WASHINGTON — NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a mysterious X-shaped debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust that suggest a head-on collision between two asteroids. Astronomers have long thought the asteroid belt is being ground down through collisions, but such a smashup has never been seen before.

Asteroid collisions are energetic, with an average impact speed of more than 11,000 miles per hour, or five times faster than a rifle bullet. The comet-like object imaged by Hubble, called P/2010 A2, was first discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research, or LINEAR, program sky survey on Jan. 6.

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

This is a NASA Hubble Space Telescope picture of a comet-like object called P/2010 A2, which was first discovered by the LINEAR (Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research program) sky survey on January 6. The object appears so unusual in ground-based telescopic images that discretionary time on Hubble was used to take a close-up look. This picture, from the January 29 observation, shows a bizarre X-pattern of filamentary structures near the point-like nucleus of the object and trailing streamers of dust.

The inset picture shows a complex structure that suggests the object is not a comet but instead the product of a head-on collision between two asteroids traveling five times faster than a rifle bullet (5 kilometers per second). Astronomers have long thought that the asteroid belt is being ground down through collisions, but such a smashup has never before been seen.

The filaments are made of dust and gravel, presumably recently thrown out of the 460-foot-diameter nucleus. Some of the filaments are swept back by radiation pressure from sunlight to create straight dust streaks. Embedded in the filaments are co-moving blobs of dust that likely originate from tiny unseen parent bodies. An impact origin would also be consistent with the absence of gas in spectra recorded using ground-based telescopes.

At the time of the Hubble observations, the object was approximately 180 million miles (300 million km) from the Sun and 90 million miles (140 million km) from Earth. The Hubble images were recorded with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). The image was taken in visible light. The color in the image is not what the human eye would see. A blue color map was added to bring out subtle details.

Object Name: Comet-like Asteroid P/2010 A2

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It's aliens, fess up!

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It's aliens, fess up!

:lol: There fighting over who bumped the asteroid into the other one, :yes:

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Is that a smashed comet or an X-Wing fighter?

Scientists are offering up their own theories as to what created the striking star-inspired image, which was captured by NASA's Hubble telescope in January.

"Two small and previously unknown asteroids recently collided, creating a shower of debris that is being swept back into a tail from the collision site by the pressure of sunlight," said principal investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles.

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An X-shaped comet-like object which may have been created by a high speed "smash-up" in space has left astronomers baffled.

Scientists say the object could be the result of a collision between two asteroids, possibly siblings of the rock blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs when it smashed into the Earth millions of years ago.

Nasa described the debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust as "mysterious" but said the images captured by the Hubble Telescope suggested a head-on collision.

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