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Bizarre Six-Tailed Asteroid Dumbfounds Scientists 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the six-tails-are-better-than-one dept.
coondoggie writes "Many images from deep space are so cool, weird and unusual it is hard to believe they are real sometimes. This is one of them. Astronomers looking deep into the asteroid belt through NASA's Hubble Space Telescope say they have spotted an asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel or a spinning garden sprinkler."
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Bizarre Six-Tailed Asteroid Dumbfounds Scientists

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  • by olsmeister (1488789) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @10:54PM (#45364303)
    They're thrusters.
    • I figured it was pockets of something outgassing (is that the correct term?) as is spins. Different materials heat/etc different rates blah blah cue Bill Nye or Phil Platt please.
    • by somenickname (1270442) on Friday November 08, 2013 @01:01AM (#45365091)

      You joke but, earlier today there was a story about Starship Troopers on Slashdot. I know that if I still lived in Buenos Aires, I'd give serious thought to getting out of town for a while...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by speckman (2511208)

      That was my first thought. Hmm. Every time they take a picture of this thing, it's got a jet going in a different direction.... I mean say we took a picture of a UFO way out in space... what would it look like at lowish resolution? a lump of something with jets coming out of it? Maybe. I guess the true test for that is if it's orbit is changing unexpectedly.

      Because seriously, even putting aside the possibility of already having taken video/shots of UFOs in space, on the planet, etc., what would our first en

      • If it were something capable of crossing interstellar space, then the thruster exhaust (even if they had some exotic drive for travelling very long distances) would likely be invisible in the visible spectrum and very, very bright in the IR. It would also likely be travelling significantly faster than anything naturally occurring and so would be quite distinctive in several ways.
        • Right.

          It's gotta be the end-of-voyage garbage dump. When all the crap that piles up during the months of warp speed travel is ejected from the tubes, after, of course, recovering all the H2O for the hydroponics. Put a bit of a spin on the Waste Storage / Ejection Module so none of the stuff sticks to the hull, and carefully balance the release from the six different ejection ports so the ship's trim is unaffected, and this is exactly the pattern that we would see.

          Are the results of the spectrographic stud

      • There's one thing that would differentiate between regular celestial body and an artificial celestial construct: Albedo.
        (there are exceptions, YMMV, but largely it's a pretty accurate way of telling them apart)

    • They're thrusters.

      Bah! What we are seeing here is obviously an alien mining operation.

    • by Sla$hPot (1189603)

      Yes, it is thruster beams.
      And yes it is an asteriod.
      Is it the new nuclear deterrence?

      I'm sure that someone will claim it has something to do with Nibiru.
      Whohoo, It's a bird [boid]
      Great stuff :)

    • by bareman (60518)

      It's a marketing gimmick for Planetary Annihilation (http://www.uberent.com/pa/).

      Release day is going to be a smash!

    • by trout007 (975317)

      You are more right than you know. There is an explaination that asteroids and comets have tails due to electric discharges as they move through voltage potentials in the solar system.
      http://youtu.be/De9b8Z94nQk [youtu.be]

      • by cusco (717999)

        Is this more 'electric universe' foldorol? Good grief, I that that foolishness was finally dying out

        • by trout007 (975317)

          When each new observation that baffles the experts is explained by another theory I pay attention.

  • by JBMcB (73720) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @11:11PM (#45364389)

    ... they mean it's something new scientists haven't seen before, and haven't figured out yet.

    Kinda like the same way you meet someone you don't know, you are dumbfounded by them.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      ... they mean it's something new scientists haven't seen before, and haven't figured out yet.

      Kinda like the same way you meet someone you don't know, you are dumbfounded by them.

      Every now and then you need the weird exception, it's what helps establish the statistical mean.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Nyder (754090)

      ... they mean it's something new scientists haven't seen before, and haven't figured out yet.

      Kinda like the same way you meet someone you don't know, you are dumbfounded by them.

      Mainly if they are female...

    • by tgd (2822)

      ... they mean it's something new scientists haven't seen before, and haven't figured out yet.

      Kinda like the same way you meet someone you don't know, you are dumbfounded by them.

      Visit the Midwest -- everyone there dumbfounds me.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @11:12PM (#45364399) Journal
    Carl Sagan's book Cosmos, theorizes that sometime within the last 10 or 20 thousand years, a comet with four bright tails, came to wards the Earth in an end-on view. That would look like a Swastika. That shape has been recorded in Chinese manuscripts of comet descriptions. It must have made profound impact on human psyche because of so many associations of the Swastika symbol with supernatural and power.

    So I was looking for some spectacular six tailed swastika there, but, meh, some smokey trails.

    • "like spokes on a wheel" was not apt description and set my exceptions of the image a bit too high. Meh, indeed.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      I'm wondering if this is some weird new invocation of Godwin's law...
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:41AM (#45366627) Homepage Journal

        The swastika was an important symbol before Germany was a country.

    • Sounds more like it would need to be a plus sign and rotating. While approaching end-on. And really, really big and traveling really, really slowly, apparently.

  • Fox Comet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ElectraFlarefire (698915) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @11:12PM (#45364401) Journal

    Space Kitsune!
    Off to earn it's last three tails.

  • Why is this being reported as an asteroid when the original research paper says that it is a comet? http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/778/1/L21/article [iop.org] What is the difference between a comet and an asteroid?
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      Called both in the article, it was thought it was a comet (icy body outgassing because of sun) but then:

      "As an inner-belt asteroid and probable Flora family member, the object is likely to be highly metamorphosed and unlikely to contain ice. The protracted period of dust release appears inconsistent with an impact origin, but may be compatible with a body that is losing mass through a rotational instability. "

      Asteroids are minor planets of three main types: stony, metallic or carbon-rich

  • Deslock! Deslock! DES...LOCK!!!!
  • Asteroids do not have tails. Fusion powered spaceships or comets do though....

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @11:47PM (#45364675)

    Why do so many of these stories have things like "dumbfounded" or "baffled" in the title? Are these scientists just standing there, exclaiming to everyone who will listen - "I'm just so gosh-darn BAFFLED!" Not from any scientist I've met - but it's always reported as such, as if unknowns weren't a crucial element of the whole, you know, SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.

    Yeesh.

    Ryan Fenton

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cylon_Basestar#Battlestar_Galactica_.282004.E2.80.932009.29 [wikipedia.org] It sure matches the description of the star that was seen in last season.
  • OK this comet was coming at Earth. Chuck Norris found out. He used a SpaceX ship to fly to the comet. He twisted the comets tail with his powerful karate and made it spin out of control. (which is why it now has 6 tails) Now it will miss the Earth by millions of miles. Once again Chuck Norris has saved humanity!!
    • He used a SpaceX ship to fly to the comet.

      Obviously untrue. What does Chuck Norris need with a spaceship?

      • by Nov8tr (2007392)
        Silly, he loaned his super cape to Superman after the evil menace from Planet 9 stole his. He borrowed the ship from the Texas Rangers. God don't you know anything? pfffttt!!
  • Enough with the probing already!

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday November 08, 2013 @01:17AM (#45365157)
    If it was spinning then would the discharge be in a spiral(s) rather that individual tails?
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Solar wind perhaps?

      What's interesting is that they think it's spinning very fast.

      P/2013 P5 has been ejecting dust periodically for at least five months. Astronomers believe it is possible the asteroid's rotation rate increased to the point where its surface started flying apart.

    • The angle of any spiralling will depend on how fast it's spinning and how fast the jets are, so any spiralling just might not be perceivable in the images.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        If it was spinning so fast you could not see the spiralling, then you would not have separate tails either. They would all blend together into one big blurred tail. I think it is electrical arc machining due to difference in voltage potential in the object and it's location in space. Electric Universe theory keeps popping up everytime I see these new discoveries in space.

        I especially loved the article linked from that one about the "X" shaped asteroid. They say it must have been a collision with an oddly sh

        • I think it is electrical arc machining due to difference in voltage potential in the object and it's location in space.

          I think you're making shit up because you want to make yourself feel superior. I'm also pretty sure you don't work at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.

          What, in the image, do you see that leads you to believe that there is more to this than a leaking asteroid?

          Electric Universe theory keeps popping up everytime I see these new discoveries in space.

          No, you keep seeing it because it's your pet theory - I say "theory," I mean "buzzword" - that you probably just love to trot out at any opportunity so people can see how awesome you must be because you know the truth.

          If it was spinning so fast you could not see the spiralling

          I was suggesting

  • Those are deep space kraken!
  • Alien Asteroid Mining. Either that, or the Fithp from the Niven & Pournelle book "Footfall", preparing a dinosaur killer to soften up the Earth.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Allready six-tails!

    Thats dangerous Naruto, come back!

  • You dolts! It's the Flying Spaghetti Monster(tm)!
  • I mean, this is like looking through a dirty/wet window at a street lamp etc.
  • From the article:

    P/2013 P5 has been ejecting dust periodically for at least five months. Astronomers believe it is possible the asteroid's rotation rate increased to the point where its surface started flying apart.

    All they said was, "At least five months". If we worked backwards, how big would this asteroid have been, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years ago?

  • Everytime they observe it, it changes. If they would stop looking at it, the debris will stop.

    Down with the astronomers, they are destroying the asteroid.
  • We just received word from Cirocco Jones, the astronaut closest to the phenomenon, that she received a transmission: "y'all are welcome to come visit, but leave the furries at home, because they creep out My titanides. Oh, and heroes only.".

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe

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