The Hubble UFO Asteroid Mystery
90 Million Miles from Earth

The Hubble UFO Asteroid Mystery
90 Million Miles from Earth

The Hubble telescope spotted a UFO. Since then scientists have zoomed in on the object, but are still clueless to what it is. While it has a tail like a comet, there is no gas in the tail. So it's not a comet. It is 140 meters wide, and it almost forms a Batman like shape with a tail.

The best explanation is it was two asteroids that collided at five times the speed of a bullet fired from a gun, 15,000 km an hour. This would release more energy than a nuclear bomb, which could explain the tail. Scientists estimate it's 90 million miles from earth.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 has captured an image of a Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) which shows a bizarre X-pattern of filamentary structures near the point-like nucleus of the object and trailing streamers of dust at 90 million miles away from the Earth.

The object was first discovered by the LINEAR (Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research program) sky survey on January 6th.

The Hubble UFO Asteroid Mystery

"The behavior is not typical of comets." UCLA investigator David Jewitt explains, and researchers believe something unprecedented has been spotted:  "This is quite different from the smooth dust envelopes of normal comets"

Although many scientists and astronomers have been stunned by unprecedented event, NASA has since declared that the object is a result of two asteroids slamming into each other at speeds exceeding 11,000 miles per hour.

NASA believes that the X-debris pattern, named P/2010 A2 survived the impact, and that the other asteroid disintegrated fully.

"The behavior is not typical of comets, UCLA investigator David Jewitt explains, and researchers believe something unprecedented has been spotted: This is quite different from the smooth dust envelopes of normal comets.

The filaments are made of dust and gravel, presumably recently thrown out of the nucleus. Some are swept back by radiation pressure from sunlight to create straight dust streaks. Embedded in the filaments are co-moving blobs of dust that likely originated from tiny unseen parent bodies."

P/2010 A2 (LINEAR) is a small Solar System body that displayed characteristics of both an asteroid and a comet, and thus, was initially given a cometary designation.

Since it has the orbit of a main-belt asteroid and showed the tail of a comet, it was listed as a main-belt comet.

Strange Object

P/2010 A2 is likely the debris left over from a recent collision between two very small asteroids.

Assumed comet nucleus seen to the lower left of debris field.

But within a month of discovery, analysis of images by the Hubble telescope suggested that its tail was generated by dust and gravel resulting from a recent head-on collision between asteroids rather than from sublimation of cometary ice.

The position of the nucleus was remarkable for being offset from the axis of the tail and outside of the dust halo, a situation never before seen in a comet. The tail is created by millimeter sized particles being pushed back by solar radiation pressure.

The Hubble UFO Asteroid Mystery

P/2010 A2 was discovered on January 6th, 2010 by Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) using a 1 meter (36") reflecting telescope with a CCD camera.

It has been observed over a 112 day arc of the 3.5 year orbit. It appears to have come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) around the start of December 2009, about a month before it was discovered.

With an aphelion (furthest distance from the Sun) of only 2.6 AU, P/2010 A2 spends all of its time inside of the frostline at 2.7 AU.

Beyond the frostline volatile ices are generally more common. Early observations did not detect water vapor or other gases.

Within less than a month of its discovery it was doubtful that the tail of P/2010 A2 was generated via active outgassing from sublimation of ices hidden beneath the crust. Early modeling indicated that the asteroid became active in late March 2009, reached maximum activity in early June 2009, and eased activity in early December 2009.

Orbit of P/2010 A2 at the time of its discovery

Observations with the Hubble space telescope and the narrow angle camera on board the Rosetta spacecraft indicate that the dust trail seen was probably created by the impact of a small meter size object on the larger asteroid in February or March 2009.

Though it can not be ruled out that the small asteroids rotation increased from solar radiation resulting in a loss of mass that formed a comet-like tail. P/2010 A2 is likely about 150 meters (460 feet) in diameter. Even when it was discovered it was suspected of being less than 500 meters in diameter.

Another object, centaur 60558 Echeclus in 2006, was suspected of outgassing as a result of an undetermined splitting event. The orbit of P/2010 A2 is consistent with membership in the Flora asteroid family, produced by collisional shattering more than 100 million years ago. The Flora family of asteroids may be the source of the K/T impactor, the likely culprit in the extinction of the dinosaurs.