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Waspie_Dwarf

Rare asteroid sporting 'tail' spotted

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Rare asteroid sporting 'tail' spotted

MADRID, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Asteroids, unlike comets, are seldom seen sporting a tail as they orbit the sun, but Spanish astronomers say they've observed one of these rare exceptions.

Using a telescope in the Canary Islands, they spotted an asteroid dubbed P/2012 F5 that displayed a trail like that of comets.

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My understanding is that the tail of a comet originates from ices sublimating off the comet when it warms at it gets closer to the sun. Most asteroids (in fact I suppose all of them I ever heard about) are rocky of some sort -- either carbonaceous or stony -- and so able to produce dust but not ice vapors.

So what happened here? I guess something we didn't see hit it. Or maybe something landed on it.

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My understanding is that the tail of a comet originates from ices sublimating off the comet when it warms at it gets closer to the sun. Most asteroids (in fact I suppose all of them I ever heard about) are rocky of some sort -- either carbonaceous or stony -- and so able to produce dust but not ice vapors.

So what happened here? I guess something we didn't see hit it. Or maybe something landed on it.

Carbonaceous asteroids do contain water, to the extent that Deep Space Industries plans to mine asteroids for it, however it is not in the amounts that we see in a comet.

As we have discovered more their has been a blurring in the definitions of solar system objects. A few years ago we "knew" the difference between a planet, an asteroid and a comet. As we have learnt more it is now obvious that there is little difference between a large asteroid and a small planet. We now know that some old comet nuclei are indistinguishable from asteroids. And we also now know that some asteroids can exhibit comet like tails.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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I don't disagree with that, but might put a little more emphasis on the fact that comets come from out there where it is cold while asteroids formed in areas where there will be less ice formed. Everything in the solar system is from pretty much the same stuff, but with differing environments of formation.

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