The Asteroid 6478 Gault is a funny guy. It has a comet-like trace of dust and, even strangely, changed the color from red to blue. "It's the first time scientists have seen a color shifting asteroid in real time," the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a release on Thursday.
The change was not as dramatic to the naked eye as it is to a squid or chameleon that shifts its colors. Astronomers observed the activity of the asteroid in the near infrared spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye.
MIT Postdoc Michael Marsset called the postponement "a big surprise" and said, "We believe we've witnessed the loss of the asteroid, it's reddish dust in space, and we see the underlying fresh blue layers of the asteroid. "
The rocky asteroid is located far between Mars and Jupiter. It has been on astronomers' radar since its discovery in 1
A closer look at 6478 Gault showed the unexpected color shift of the asteroid. The researchers suspect that the asteroid rotates very fast and discards its old surface dust to expose fresh material underneath. A bit like a space snake that gets away from the skin.
The MIT research team published its findings on Friday in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The Asteroid 6478 Gault may not be long for this universe. NASA said these tails could "be a key proof that Gault is slowly falling apart." When it finally dissolves, it's at least spectacular.
Originally published on August 30, 2:17 pm. PT.