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Friday, February 5, 2010

Suspected Asteroid Blow Leaves Abaft Bits

Suspected Asteroid Blow Leaves Abaft Bits

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has empiric a abstruse X-shaped bits arrangement and abaft streamers of dust that advance a bang blow amid two asteroids. Astronomers accept continued anticipation the asteroid belt is actuality arena bottomward through collisions, but such a blow has never been apparent before.
Asteroid collisions are energetic, with an boilerplate appulse acceleration of added than 11,000 afar per hour, or bristles times faster than a burglarize bullet. The comet-like article beheld by Hubble, alleged P/2010 A2, was aboriginal apparent by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research, or LINEAR, affairs sky analysis on Jan. 6. Fresh Hubble images taken on Jan. 25 and 29 actualization a circuitous X-pattern of filamentary structures abreast the nucleus. "This is absolutely altered from the bland dust envelopes of accustomed comets," said arch investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles.
"The filaments are fabricated of dust and gravel, apparently afresh befuddled out of the nucleus. Some are swept aback by radiation burden from sunlight to actualize beeline dust streaks. Embedded in the filaments are co-moving blobs of dust that acceptable originated from tiny concealed ancestor bodies." Hubble shows the capital basis of P/2010 A2 lies alfresco its own aura of dust.
This has never been apparent afore in a comet-like object. The basis is estimated to be 460 anxiety in diameter. Accustomed comets abatement into the close regions of the solar arrangement from icy reservoirs in the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud. As comets abreast the sun and balmy up, ice abreast the apparent vaporizes and ejects actual from the solid comet basis via jets. But P/2010 A2 may accept a altered origin. It orbits in the warm, close regions of the asteroid belt area its abutting neighbors are dry bouldered bodies defective airy materials. This leaves accessible the achievability that the circuitous bits appendage is the aftereffect of an appulse amid two bodies, rather than ice artlessly melting from a ancestor body."If this estimation is correct, two baby and ahead alien asteroids afresh collided, creating a battery of bits that is actuality swept aback into a appendage from the blow armpit by the burden of sunlight," Jewitt said.
The capital basis of P/2010 A2 would be the actual balance of this alleged hypervelocity collision."The filamentary actualization of P/2010 A2 is altered from annihilation apparent in Hubble images of accustomed comets, constant with the activity of a altered process," Jewitt said. An appulse agent additionally would be constant with the absence of gas in spectra recorded application ground-based telescopes.The asteroid belt contains abounding affirmation of age-old collisions that accept burst forerunner bodies into fragments. The apogee of P/2010 A2 is constant with associates in the Flora asteroid family, produced by collisional ballyhoo added than 100 actor years ago.
One fragment of that age-old blow may accept addled Earth 65 actor years ago, triggering a accumulation afterlife that wiped out the dinosaurs. But, until now, no such asteroid-asteroid blow has been bent "in the act." At the time of the Hubble observations, the article was about 180 actor afar from the sun and 90 actor afar from Earth. The Hubble images were recorded with the fresh Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which is able of audition house-sized bits at the ambit of the asteroid belt.

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