Home > Asteroids, Astronomy, Observatories & Facilities, Solar System > Researchers Explain the Formation of Scheila’s Unusual Triple Dust Tails

Researchers Explain the Formation of Scheila’s Unusual Triple Dust Tails


A research team of planetary scientists and astronomers, primarily from Seoul National University, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), and Kobe University, has explained the formation of peculiar triple dust tails from the asteroid Scheila (asteroid #596). The researchers concluded that another asteroid about 20-50 meters in size impacted Scheila from behind on December 3, 2010 and accounted for its unusual brightness and form.

On December 11.4, 2010, Steve Larson of the Catalina Sky Survey noticed an odd brightness from Scheila, an asteroid on the outer region of the main belt of asteroids that orbit in an area between Mars and Jupiter. Three streams of dust appeared to trail from the asteroid. Data from NASA’s Swift Satellite and the Hubble Space Telescope suggested that a smaller asteroid’s impact was the likely trigger for the appearance of comet-like tails from Scheila. However, questions remained about the date when the dust emission occurred and how the triple dust tails formed. The current research team sought answers to these queries.

Full Story: http://www.subarutelescope.org/Pressrelease/2011/10/19/index.html

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