has discovered a mysterious X-shaped object traveling at 11,000mph. NASA says
that P/2010-A2 may be a comet, product of the collision between two
asteroids. Or a Klingon Bird of Prey. Either way, UCLA investigator David Jewitt
Click above to see the full resolution image
This is quite different from the smooth dust envelopes of normal comets.
The filaments are made of dust and gravel, presumably recently thrown out of
the nucleus. Some 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 originated from tiny unseen parent bodies.
OK, David, we will believe you until Jerry Bruckheimer finish his next movie,
in which a "comet" suddenly stops, turns to Earth, and starts firing anti-matter
rays against our underpants.
The weirdest thing, however, is not only the prettyful X-shaped debris
pattern, but the fact that its 460-foot-wide nucleus is outside the dust
halo and separated from the trail. This behavior is something which has never
been seen before in a comet or any other solar-system-swooshing object.
The images—taken by Hubble between January 25 and January 29—lead NASA to
believe that this is a product of the collision of two asteroids. The nucleus
would be the "surviving remnant of a hypervelocity collision:
"If this interpretation is correct, 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. The
filamentary appearance of P/2010 A2 is different from
anything seen in Hubble images of normal comets, consistent with the action of
a different process.
In other words: They have
no clue about what this is, and they are still speculating about how this object
was formed. Maybe it's time to call Dr. Zarkov. [NASA]
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