Strange behaviour in asteroids

9 November 2013

At … the Hubble Space Telescope has found an asteroid sporting six comet like tails arching from an object in the Asteroid Belt (P/2013P5). Why the object has decided to eject streams of dust is unclear. One explanation is tha the asteroid's rotation rate has increased – causing it to belch out loads of dust and debris. Radiation from the Sun causes the dust to look like bright streamers. The paper is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters (Nov, 7th).

Meanwhile, at … the asteroid Vesta, visited by NASAs Dawn mission, has two shallow craters in one area which sport the mineral olivine. This has caused some head scratching as in consensus theory the olivine should be much deeper within the asteroid – not visible near the top layer, or crust. IOn fact, bigger and deeper craters do exist on Vesta but show no trace of olivine. However, the discovery will serve as a stimulus to simulate a different model of how Vesta came to be as it is, and perhaps explain why so many meteorites on Earth appear to have an origin on Vesta, yet contain no olivine.

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