Washington, Nov 8 (): A never-before-seen asteroid with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler was spotted for the first time by NASA’s Hubble Space telescope.
NASA’s release termed the asteroid as looking like “a rotating lawn sprinkler” with dust radiating out from it like spokes on a wheel.
The strange asteroid was found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and scientists are shocked on seeing such an asteroid. David Jewitt, lead investigator of the University of California at Los Angeles said in a press release, “We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it”.
“I’m trying not to use the word ‘freak,’” said David, “but that’s what it is. It is definitely freakish.”
This unusual asteroid is known as P/2013 P5 and also called as a “rotating lawn sprinkler” by experts at NASA. They say the strange asteroid regularly changes its appearance.
Astronomers found the asteroid P/2013 P5 in August. However, the tiny points of light beaming from the asteroid was not seen until September 10 when Hubble was used to take a more detailed image of the flying object that the multiple tails were discovered.
Astronomers assume that the rotation rate of the asteroid has increased to the point where its surface starting flying apart causing the tails of dust to blast off into space. They also suggest the faint stripes, which radiate like spokes on a wheel from the asteroid, are generated as the asteroid speeds through the solar system, shedding dust as it goes.
The mysterious asteroid will be observed by Jewitt and his team of astronomers continuously in hopes of measuring the asteroid’s true spin rate.
For now, Jewitt guess that the radiation pressure from the sun has caused the asteroid’s spin rate to speed up. If it is spinning fast enough, the asteroid could start to fall apart. Perhaps these discharges are like little storms of dust falling off the asteroid’s surface before the thing finally breaks up entirely. If Jewitt’s theory is correct, the six-tailed asteroid may break up soon.