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Hubble Witnesses Mysterious Breakup of Asteroid 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-not-you-it's-me dept.
astroengine writes "Hubble has observed some weird things since it was launched in 1990, but this is probably one of the strangest. In September 2013, the Catalina and Pan-STARRS sky surveys spotted a mysterious object in the asteroid belt, a region of rocky debris that occupy the space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Follow-up observations by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii resolved three separate objects within the fuzzy cloud. It was so strange that Hubble mission managers decided to use the space telescope to get a closer look. And what they saw has baffled and thrilled astronomers in equal measure. 'This is a really bizarre thing to observe — we've never seen anything like it before,' said co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. 'The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.'"
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Hubble Witnesses Mysterious Breakup of Asteroid

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