Home > Astronomy, Comets, Solar System > Professor Helps To Discover Near-Earth Asteroid Is Really A Comet

Professor Helps To Discover Near-Earth Asteroid Is Really A Comet


Some things are not always what they seem—even in space. For thirty years, scientists believed a large near-Earth object was an asteroid. Now, an international team including Joshua Emery, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at UT, has discovered it is actually a comet.

Called 3552 Don Quixote, the body is the third largest near-Earth object—mostly rocky bodies, or asteroids, that orbit the Sun in the vicinity of Earth. About 5 percent of near-Earth objects are thought to be “dead” comets that have shed all the water and carbon dioxide in the form of ice that give them their coma—a cloud surrounding the comet nucleus—and tail.

The team found that Don Quixote is neither. It is, in fact, an active comet, thus likely containing water ice and not just rocks. The finding will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress 2013 in London today, Sept. 10. The discovery could hold implications for the origin of water on Earth.

Full Story: http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2013/09/10/professor-helps-discover-nearearth-asteroid-comet/

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