Artist rendering shows asteroid P/2013 P5 emitting six finger-like dust trails (Image courtesy NASA, ESA and A. Feild)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) - This is one strange asteroid.
The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a six-tailed asteroid in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Scientists say they've never seen anything like it. Incredibly, the comet-like tails change shape as the asteroid sheds dust. The streams have occurred over several months.
A research team led by the University of California, Los Angeles, believes the asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, is rotating so much that its surface is flying apart. It's believed to be a fragment of a larger asteroid damaged in a collision 200 million years ago.
Scientists using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii spotted the asteroid in August. Hubble picked out all the tails in September.
The discovery is described in this week's issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.
You may also like...
Inspiring: Football team conspires for touching touchdown
Fishing spot fight: Man stabbed over good fishing spot
Beached Whale: Questions surround sperm whale's death
INVESTIGATORS: Memo warns of terrorist "dry-runs" on airplanes
Mystery Animal: Exotic coati roams Florida neighborhood
Obstacles overcome: Deaf varsity football player helps team to
Pest Invasion: Southeast braces for 'crazy' ants
POLL: Clear majority of Americans want marijuana
Good Samaritan: Convicted felon helps police nab accused shoplifter
PHOTOS: Tornados, waterspouts within the Tampa Bay area
10 News talker: Mysterious smoke ring sighting in Pinellas
Bush League? Autograph exhibit fails authenticity test
Oldie But Ghoulie: Parking cop tickets witch's broom
Watch: Elk ROCKS a family's backyard