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A STRANGE BINARY ASTEROID

A German-led group of astronomers announced on September 20, 2017 that they were recently able to use the Hubble Space Telescope to discover a strange object, a binary asteroid, which are two asteroids orbiting each other and also has comet-like features.

They have been sometimes referred to as rock comets, or active asteroids.

The object has been labeled 2006 VW139/288P. It definitely has comet like features including a bright halo of material called a coma and a long dusty tail.

Astronomers first observed the asteroid pair in September 2016, just before it made it’s closest approach to the sun.

There have been other known comet-asteroid hybrids, like 3200 Phaethon, which spawns the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Asteroid 2006 VW139/288P is the first object to be classified as a binary or double asteroid and also a main-belt comet.

References Articles:

http://earthsky.org/space/comet-like-double-asteroid-288p?mc_cid=89b4e7046c&mc_eid=36fb49e54a

http://hubblesite.org/image/4067/news_release/2017-32

http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-32

 

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