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Asteroids with tails, things that go bump, and a new comet is paying us all a visit

22 February 2013

At http://phys.org/print280669880.html … asteroids aren't supposed to have tails. Comets do. We now have ten exceptions to the rule. Spanish astronomers have observed another one – a tail that appeared in 2011. Why? Their dust and gas emission activity is just like comets – but is intermittent. Resaerchers struggle to account for the unexpected resurgence of tail activity to suggest there was some kind of collision involved which sparked the shearing of debris, and another explanation involves the spin being ruptured for some unknown reason. A dead comet? These are solid bodies, they say, and comets are made of … you know what.

At http://phys.org/print280668106.html … the European Space Agency is going to start looking at space rocks somewhat more seriously after the Russian incident last week. Next time it may occur over a densely populated are of the world – so it makes sense. It's also interesting from our point of view as it may end up giving us some clues on what might have happened in the past – the primary goal of SIS. It's also good news for astronomers as far as government cutbacks are concerned – and politicians can't really argue against the neccessity. One other thing that emerged is that the big space rock did not come as close as projected. It was said to be on an orbit that would bring it as near as 17,000km but kept it's distance it seems as it only came within 27,000km in the end. We also know there are around one million asteroids around 50m (165 feet) across orbiting around the Sun as regular inhabitants of the solar system. Comets are usually regarded as visitors.

However, at http://phys.org/print280687000.html … Comet Pan-STARRS C/2011 is expected to become visible to naked eye observation in March. It can already be seen in the southern hemisphere but is currently below the horizon for people in the northern hemisphere.

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