Thursday, March 6, 2014

UPDATE: Asteroid Disintegration Observed by HST Is A 1st

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE: Ron Baalke of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), an expert in all things asteroids and comets, advised via Twitter that ASTEROID 2013 R3 was reclassified as a comet - P/2013 R3 on Sept. 27, 2013. Once again the line between what are comets and asteroids merges; they are probably one in the same in some instances only requiring a change in their environment to change over.

Asteroids ruled my blog yesterday and they do today. Asteroid 2014 EC is flying by a bit closer at 36,000 miles at about 4:29 pm EST and newly designated 2014 EF flew by earlier today at about 104,000 miles. You can hear my interview about asteroids on WTOP here.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has photographed for the first time an asteroid, P/2013 R3, in the process of disintegrating.

Comet nuclei have been observed to break up approaching the Sun and Jupiter. But astronomers have never seen this happen to an asteroid in the asteroid belt before so it is getting quite a bit of attention.
There are about 10 pieces that have been observed so far.

The asteroid was unusual since its discovery late last year and follow up observations have chronicled the ongoing disintegration. Astronomers have ruled out a collision and some other possibilities. The likely cause is due to the effect of sunlight on the crumbly space rock.

You can read more about it here.

Sky Guy in Soon to be warmer VA

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