10 November 2006

Asteroids in a coma

More mainstream astronomers are now acknowledging an interesting observation: asteroids can be comets too.

The asteroid Chiron, orbiting between Saturn and Uranus, was seen to develop a coma and tail between 1988 and 1989.

...and...

the asteroid 60558 Echeclus, discovered in 2000, did display a cometary coma detected in 2005, and it too is now classified as both an asteroid and a comet

...and recently...

In a survey of 300 asteroids lurking in the asteroid belt, the astronomers detected three objects that “look a lot like comets ... ejecting little comet tails at times from their surfaces”

I wonder how long before someone figures out how to “throw the switch” to turn on cometary features? Ceres, for eample, would make an interesting ANZAC Day display if someone torched it up properly.

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