If you imagine an asteroid roaming the solar system, you are probably thinking of a static object. He does not have to do much, except rushing in a straight line and finally bumping into something. The reality can be very different, and as a new picture of the Hubble Space Telescope shows, asteroids sometimes have self-destructive habits.
The snapshot shows the asteroid known as 6478 Gault, which is in a permanent spin cycle. In fact, the space rock spins so fast that it actually sheds its own material as it races through space, slowly dissolving, leaving a trail of debris.
As NASA explains in a recent blog post, the asteroid is a relatively large asteroid about 2.5 miles in diameter. It is far from the Earth, about 21
It's definitely a cool sight, but the fact that the asteroid is slowly eroding is really a blessing on scientists studying such space rock. Scientists can leave the traces left behind to learn more about the composition of the rock itself.
"We did not have to go to Gault," said Olivier Hainaut of the European Southern Observatory in Germany in a statement. "All we had to do was see the image of the streamers and we can see all the grains of dust sorted by size. All large grains (about the size of particles of sand) are close to the object, and the smallest grains (about the size of flour grains) are farthest away because they are forced the fastest by the sun pressure. "
Why does the stone turn, scientists believe that they have a pretty good idea. It's a phenomenon called the YORP effect, and it's all due to the sun. When sunlight hits the asteroid and heats its surface, it radiates some of that energy back into space, causing the asteroid to spin easily. As the rock rotates, the sun's rays continue to heat it to the sun, resulting in a higher angular momentum and eventually leading to a fast-spinning asteroid.