APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

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APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by APOD Robot » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:06 am

Image The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5

Explanation: What is happening to asteroid P/2013 P5? No one is sure. For reasons unknown, the asteroid is now sporting not one but six discernible tails. The above images were taken two months ago by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and show the rapidly changing dust streams. It is not even known when P5 began displaying such unusual tails. Were the main belt asteroid struck by a large meteor, it would be expected to sport a single dust tail. Possible explanations include that light pressure from the Sun is causing the asteroid to rotate increasingly rapidly, which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to spin off. Future observations should better indicate how P5 and its dust plumes are evolving and so provide more clues to its nature -- and to how many similar asteroids might exist.

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Ann » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:45 am

Interesting. Asteroids and comets are clearly more alike than previously thought, although one kind of body is wetter than the other.

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:55 am

Maybe "comet" would be better thought of as a verb than a noun. Any small body that's releasing a significant tail of dust, neutral gas, and/or ions in response to solar radiation is a comet. The same body can be a comet at some times and another kind of body (an asteroid, a kuiper belt object, etc.) at other times.

Just a thought. I'm not a member of the IAU, so I don't get to vote on nomenclature changes.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:11 am

Ann wrote:Interesting. Asteroids and comets are clearly more alike than previously thought, although one kind of body is wetter than the other.
Maybe, maybe not. Just because two things share a common appearance doesn't necessarily mean that the same mechanisms are operating.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by bactame » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:11 am

Hey, in any case this is a neat picture of this comet P5 though the picture of A2 in 2010 apod is neater still. The idea that the comet is rotating refers to P5 and a colliding comet for A2 does reveal a sense that two kinds of things have happened to a comet. So we are talking about comets, right?

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Boomer12k » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:13 am

Fascinating...who knew?

I wonder how long it will last...

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Cardinal » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:41 am

The images make me wonder if the asteroid has undergone a slight change in orbit (possibly indicating a strike of some kind).

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by carsten_nielsen » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:54 am

P/2013 P5 is a comet designation, an asteroid has two letters before the number, f.i. PP5 or GH. The first asteroids are named 2013 PA and PB.

P/ means periodic comet, so it has been identified as one that has been here before

But you maybe should name the APOD Unexpected Tails of Comet P5

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by geckzilla » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:23 pm

carsten_nielsen wrote:P/2013 P5 is a comet designation, an asteroid has two letters before the number, f.i. PP5 or GH. The first asteroids are named 2013 PA and PB.

P/ means periodic comet, so it has been identified as one that has been here before

But you maybe should name the APOD Unexpected Tails of Comet P5

Regards

Carsten Nielsen
Denmark
It's not a comet. It would be more appropriate to remove the comet name from what has been clearly identified as an asteroid. Here are Phil Plait's thoughts on the matter, which is where I got my information.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronom ... tails.html
Phil Plait wrote:So in reality, for this object, there’s no real confusion over what it is. It’s an asteroid; it just looks, for now, like a comet. But the resemblance is superficial, caused by two very different processes. What I do find amusing is the name of the object: P/2013 P5 is a comet name. Asteroids have just the year of discovery and a letter/number combination that indicate when in the year it was discovered (and after a while, they’re given names, too). The “P” in P/2013 indicates it’s a periodic comet, which we now know is a misnomer.

As I reported yesterday, a comet was mistaken for an asteroid, and so the name changed from 2013 US10 to C/2013 US10 (Catalina), indicating the reclassification. I wonder if P/2013 P5 will also get a new name? It should.

Well, no matter we decide to call it, P5 is doing whatever it is it should be doing. It’s up to us to figure that out, and not let names get in the way of understanding.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by neufer » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:29 pm

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by JohnD » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:49 pm

Quote "light pressure from the Sun is causing the asteroid to rotate increasingly rapidly, which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to spin off"

Wouldn't that cause the tails to spiral, like the 'tails' of a Catherine wheel firework?

John

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by tomatoherd » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:51 pm

The explanation is obvious: there are forest fires occuring on the asteroid....

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by DCStone » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:17 pm

JohnD wrote:Quote "light pressure from the Sun is causing the asteroid to rotate increasingly rapidly, which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to spin off"

Wouldn't that cause the tails to spiral, like the 'tails' of a Catherine wheel firework?

John
Only if the jets are constant in direction (relative to the asteroid's body) and intensity. More likely that these are variable in both, so you get a tumbling effect: "Houston, we are venting something into space"

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by neufer » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:20 pm

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
JohnD wrote:
Quote "light pressure from the Sun is causing the asteroid to rotate increasingly rapidly, which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to spin off"

Wouldn't that cause the tails to spiral, like the 'tails' of a Catherine wheel firework?
Near the "nucleus" of the asteroid they do spiral.
. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap970414.html

Farther from the "nucleus" everything is essentially radial.

. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131013.html

Farther still everything follows its only gravitational orbit.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika:

<<Carl Sagan in his book Comet (1985) reproduces Han period Chinese manuscript (the Book of Silk, 2nd century BC) that shows comet tail varieties: most are variations on simple comet tails, but the last shows the comet nucleus with four bent arms extending from it, recalling a swastika. Sagan suggests that in antiquity a comet could have approached so close to Earth that the jets of gas streaming from it, bent by the comet's rotation, became visible, leading to the adoption of the swastika as a symbol across the world.>>
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Ron-Astro Pharmacist » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:17 pm

Did the HST do (or can it do) a spectra on the light from the ejected material to compare it to other objects of similar nature? :?:
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:33 pm

Ron-Astro Pharmacist wrote:Did the HST do (or can it do) a spectra on the light from the ejected material to compare it to other objects of similar nature?
The ejected material is just nuclear material. The images made so far were with a broadband filter in order to give the best signal for this dim object. It is possible that additional images could be collected through one or more narrower filters, allowing confirmation of the assumption that this is an S-type asteroid, or demonstrating that it is something else, such as a C-type. This photometry would most likely be conducted only on the nucleus, which is bright enough to provide an acceptable S/N.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Billsey » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:48 pm

Some have recently been postulating that "asteroids" might simply be "comets" that have lost their volatiles. Think about: you get a huge population of comets trapped in orbits that are entirely (or mostly) between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, and it won't be long (on an astronomical scale) before they lose all their volatiles, leaving only rocky material behind.

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:30 pm

Billsey wrote:Some have recently been postulating that "asteroids" might simply be "comets" that have lost their volatiles. Think about: you get a huge population of comets trapped in orbits that are entirely (or mostly) between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, and it won't be long (on an astronomical scale) before they lose all their volatiles, leaving only rocky material behind.
Sorry, but nobody who knows anything about the subject is making any such postulation. Comets and asteroids are completely separate things, with a different formation history, different orbits, and different dynamics.

A small number of objects identified as asteroids may, in fact, be comets with highly modified orbits. But the asteroid belt is not made up of trapped comets.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by JohnD » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:17 pm

DCStone wrote:
JohnD wrote:Quote "light pressure from the Sun is causing the asteroid to rotate increasingly rapidly, which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to spin off"

Wouldn't that cause the tails to spiral, like the 'tails' of a Catherine wheel firework?

John
DC,
Only if the jets are constant in direction (relative to the asteroid's body) and intensity. More likely that these are variable in both, so you get a tumbling effect: "Houston, we are venting something into space"
Neufer,
Your first link shows exactly what I mean! Completely different to the recnt APODs, and most relevant.
Your second shows a classic comet tail, drirven by solar wind, not by ejection from the object, and so not relevant. IMHO.
John

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by neufer » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:16 pm

JohnD wrote:
Neufer,

Your first link shows exactly what I mean! Completely different to the recnt APODs, and most relevant.

Your second shows a classic comet tail, driven by solar wind, not by ejection from the object, and so not relevant. IMHO.
One out of two ain't bad.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Seba » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Hey,
Asteroid losing his material exposes more layers of its capacity.
Some rocks, for example: sulfur with friction can burn spectacular!
Our asteroid rotates and leaves tails like below film with fireworks, right?
Two main questions are: tails come from the ignition, or come from explosion? What substance is causing it??
And other questions resulting from this:
If we had a time-lapse sequence of Hubble would be clear .... can anyone have or know?
What is chemical composition of the explosive?
How explosive can be generally asteroids?

By the way, comparing the pictures you can see the difference in volume and shape of six tails (even rotation), or not?
....
thanks in advance for your help and explanations!


Anyway,
The basic composition of the fireworks is:
(...) an oxidant and combustible. Oxidizers are nitrates, chlorates, chromates and sulphates of potassium, barium, strontium, and calcium ammonium. The combustible materials are non-noble metals: magnesium, aluminum and zinc, nonmetals phosphorus, sulfur and carbon, iron sulfide, arsenic, antimony and hydrocarbons and carbohydrates. (...)
And, of course, Dyes and Binder.

deathfleer

Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by deathfleer » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:38 pm

off topic.
Mr. Nuefer , etc,
I would be very pleased if you could verify these two photos:-
http://www.akhwatmuslimah.com/wp-conten ... crack1.jpg

and
http://www.akhwatmuslimah.com/wp-conten ... elah-1.jpg

thanks

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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:50 pm

Seba wrote:Hey,
Asteroid losing his material exposes more layers of its capacity.
Some rocks, for example: sulfur with friction can burn spectacular!
Our asteroid rotates and leaves tails like below film with fireworks, right?
Two main questions are: tails come from the ignition, or come from explosion? What substance is causing it??
And other questions resulting from this:
If we had a time-lapse sequence of Hubble would be clear .... can anyone have or know?
What is chemical composition of the explosive?
How explosive can be generally asteroids?

By the way, comparing the pictures you can see the difference in volume and shape of six tails (even rotation), or not?
....
thanks in advance for your help and explanations!


Anyway,
The basic composition of the fireworks is:
(...) an oxidant and combustible. Oxidizers are nitrates, chlorates, chromates and sulphates of potassium, barium, strontium, and calcium ammonium. The combustible materials are non-noble metals: magnesium, aluminum and zinc, nonmetals phosphorus, sulfur and carbon, iron sulfide, arsenic, antimony and hydrocarbons and carbohydrates. (...)
And, of course, Dyes and Binder.
Hi Seba. Nothing is burning on this asteroid because there is nothing available to serve as an oxidant. There is no atmosphere with molecular oxygen such as we have here on Earth, and no other chemical compound in the asteroid that could oxidize other stuff in the asteroid.

As I understand it, two possible explanations for this asteroid's tails are: 1) another asteroid hit it and the kinetic force knocked stuff off the surface of the asteroid; or 2) solar radiation and the solar wind of charged particles are heating the the asteroid, vaporizing stuff on the surface and possibly through cracks into the interior, and the solar wind is blowing the stuff into space.

I'm not a chemist nor a physicist, so others may be able to provide more detail and correct any errors.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by geckzilla » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:53 pm

deathfleer wrote:off topic.
Mr. Nuefer , etc,
I would be very pleased if you could verify these two photos:-
http://www.akhwatmuslimah.com/wp-conten ... crack1.jpg

and
http://www.akhwatmuslimah.com/wp-conten ... elah-1.jpg

thanks
Definitely off topic, being about the moon. Here is our Asterisk thread on that subject. http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php?t=20700&p=129980
If you want to discuss it, please do so there.
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Re: APOD: The Unexpected Tails of Asteroid P5 (2013 Nov 12)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:50 pm

Seba wrote:Two main questions are: tails come from the ignition, or come from explosion? What substance is causing it?
It's just silicate dust. Particles probably ranging from less than a millimeter to perhaps a few centimeters. It's lit by the Sun, which is why we see it, but at its distance from the Sun the material is probably pretty cold- at least tens of degrees below freezing, maybe somewhat more.
Chris

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