The strange object of the solar system is part an asteroid, part a comet

Scientists have identified unusual solar system objects with both asteroid and comet characteristics.

This object, called QN173 2005, is in orbit like any other object. asteroidHowever, most of these objects are rocks that don’t change much as they travel through the solar system. According to a new study, the 2005 QN173 (hence its name), first discovered in 2005, is not. instead of, Comet, Emits moving dust, showing a long, slender tail. This suggests that the comet typically evaporates into space covered in icy matter, even though it follows an elliptical orbit that steadily approaches and recedes. Sun..

“Although it also has an asteroid orbit, it is likely to be ice and meets the physical definition of a comet in that it emits dust into space,” said the new head of research. Author and planetologist Henry Sea is the Institute for Planetary Sciences, Said in a press release.. “This duality and blurring of the boundaries between what were previously considered two completely separate types of objects (asteroids and comets) is an important part of what makes these objects very interesting. . ”

Related: “Mega Comet” Bernardinelli Bernardinelli-Bernardinelli is a discovery of 10 years. This is the discovery described.

Despite its comet-like characteristics, the object’s orbit is undoubtedly the orbit of an asteroid. It gently loops around the sun in the outer part of the sun. Asteroid belt It sits between Mars and Jupiter and rotates about once every five years.

However, astronomers examining data collected by the Earth’s Asteroid Collision Final Warning System (ATLAS) investigation in Hawaii on July 7 noticed the object had a tail. paddy field. This characteristic was manifested in additional observations made by the telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Scientists then confirmed previous sightings made at other facilities and rediscovered the tail in images collected by the Zwicky Transient Facility in California on June 11.

In these observations, the object was closest on May 14, i.e. it passed the passage of perihelion and moved away from the Sun (the approach of the comet is much more dramatic than the typical asteroid in the main belt, but all Object is in orbit The sun moves closer and further from the sun in the orbit process. Perihelion of the earthFor example, early January. )

Meanwhile, other scientists looked at 2005 QN173 observations collected by a dark energy camera in July 2016. This was when the object was last around the perihelion. And behold, I found the tail here too.

The activity around the perihelion is consistent with the profile of the comet. As the sun’s heat increases, frozen ice turns into gas. It is a process called sublimation. A typical comet literally spends most of its time away from the Sun at a distance sufficient to freeze its activity.

“Most comets pass through Neptune’s orbit and come from the cold outer solar system, where they spend most of their time. Their very elongated orbits approach the Sun and the Earth for a short time at a time. “When they’re close enough to the Sun, they heat up, releasing gas and dust as the ice sublimates, producing a comet-related blurry appearance and often a dramatic tail,” Sea said.

Of the 500,000 objects scientists examined in the asteroid belt, it is the eighth object that scientists have confirmed to be active on multiple occasions, and one of 20 “main belt comets.” Suspicious. It’s a.

The new studies include old observations dug into the archives of various instruments first collected between 2004 and 2020 when the comet was inactive to better understand the object itself. It was. According to the statement, these observations suggest that the nucleus or head of the comet is about two miles wide.

Scientists then incorporated new observations of objects made by numerous instruments in July and August of this year, with the aim of better understanding the strange activity of the active asteroid. In particular, the researchers were able to measure the tail of an object that was less than twice as long in July, 450,000 miles (72,000 kilometers) long. Distance from earth to moon..

However, despite its immense length, the tail is not very wide, bringing new puzzles to scientists.

“This very narrow tail indicates that the dust particles are barely floating from the nucleus at a very slow rate, and the flow of gas escaping from the comet, which normally lifts the dust from the comet into space, is very weak. . ” Said Hsieh.

“Such slow speeds generally make it difficult for dust to escape from the gravity of the core itself, so this suggests that something else may be helping the dust to escape.” Hsieh added. One explanation could be that the nucleus spins so fast that it throws extra dust into space, but scientists don’t have enough observations to be sure. ..

Scientists can see objects in the southern hemisphere, marking the February 2026 calendar, which may move away from the Sun and become active again.

This study has been accepted in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and is described in a treatise which can be read as: Preprint On arXiv.org; The study was also presented Monday, October 4, practically this week, to the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @.meghanbartels..Follow us @ On TwitterSpacedotcom When Facebook..

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