Hubble Watches Spun-Up Asteroid Coming Apart

美国国家航空航天局(NASA)哈勃太空望远镜(Hubble Space Telescope)和其他天文台的最新数据显示,一颗小小行星在旋转过程中被捕获,旋转速度之快足以将物质抛掷出去。




A small asteroid was caught in the process of spinning so fast it’s throwing off material, according to new data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories.

Images from Hubble show two narrow, comet-like tails of dusty debris streaming from the asteroid (6478) Gault. Each tail represents an episode in which the asteroid gently shed its material — key evidence that Gault is beginning to come apart.

Discovered in 1988, the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer-wide) asteroid has been observed repeatedly, but the debris tails are the first evidence of disintegration. Gault is located 214 million miles (344 million kilometers) from the Sun. Of the roughly 800,000 known asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, astronomers estimate that this type of event in the asteroid belt is rare, occurring roughly once a year.

Watching an asteroid become unglued gives astronomers the opportunity to study the makeup of these space rocks without sending a spacecraft to sample them.