The Tail of a Strange Asteroid-Comet Hybrid Space Rock Is 450,000 Miles Long.
Astronomers have identified a solar system object that defies categorization since it possesses characteristics of both an asteroid and a comet.
The space object 2005 QN173 orbits the sun like any other asteroid and is located in the main asteroid belt of the solar system. It appears to be evolving as it moves through the solar system, gaining a tail long enough to extend from Earth to the moon and back, unlike other rocky asteroids discovered in this region between Mars and Jupiter.
The observation of comet 2005 QN173, which was found in 2005, revealed that it is active and has a thin, straight tail of dust and gas, which is typical of comets. The tail indicates that ice material is converting from a solid to a gas, a process known as sublimation.
The tail structure seen around an asteroid like 2005 QN173 implies ice sublimating near its surface, indicating that it’s an uncommon object known as an active asteroid. What makes 2005 QN173 even more remarkable is that it appears that this asteroid has been active on multiple occasions.
2005 QN173, also known as Asteroid 248370, is the sixth main-belt asteroid identified that has been active twice in its history, out of half a million known asteroids.
In a press release, Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Henry Hsieh remarked, “248370 can be regarded of as both an asteroid and a comet, or more specifically, a main-belt asteroid that has just lately been recognized to also be a comet.” “Despite having the orbit of an asteroid, it meets the physical definitions of a comet in that it is likely frozen and ejecting dust into space.” Between July and August of this year, the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) scan detected 2005 QN173 to be active.
Hsieh and his colleagues assessed the asteroid’s solid nucleus at its head to be 2 miles across, according to the primary author of a study reporting the discovery. The tail was estimated to be approximately 450,000 miles long. This is equal to the distance between Earth and the moon multiplied by two.
The tail of 2005 was extremely long. This is a condensed version of the information.