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Calculating The Birth Of An Asteroid's Trail

Posted February 25, 2013 12:36 PM

From Science 2.0:

Unlike comets, asteroids don't have a trail - with some exceptions.

Spanish researchers observed using the Gran Telescopio Canarias and discovered that something happened around July 1st, 2011 that caused a trail to appear on P/2012 F5 (Gibbs) - perhaps an internal rupture or a collision with another asteroid.

To-date, 10 asteroids have been discovered to at least briefly display a trail like a comet. They are named main-belt comets (MBC) as they have a typical asteroidal orbit but display a trail at the same time. This means that their dust (and possibly gas) emission activity is like comets. P/2012 F5 (Gibbs) is one of those 10 and was discovered in March of 2012 at the Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona.

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