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Hubble Witnesses Mysterious Breakup of Asteroid

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the it's-not-you-it's-me dept.

Space 69

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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ITS HAPPENING (4, Funny)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about a year ago | (#46424317)

I, for one, welcome our new asteroid pulverizing overlords.

Re:ITS HAPPENING (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#46424771)

In Soviet Russia, asteroids pulverize you!

Re:ITS HAPPENING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46424973)

Wait, what game are we playing again?

Re:ITS HAPPENING (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#46425021)

So an Anaconda crashed into an asteroid and blew it up. He had insurance.

Re:ITS HAPPENING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425297)

Why would an asteroid have insurance? Damn rock hermits trying to trick miners into insurance fraud.

The Port Authority (2)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year ago | (#46425143)

"I think its time for some 'traffic problems' in the Asteroid Belt."

Re:ITS HAPPENING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46428013)

I, for one, am not so eager to fall in lock step with our new asteroid pulverizing overlords.

Defeat the Aliens!

Re:ITS HAPPENING (2)

Dishwasha (125561) | about a year ago | (#46428111)

So.....you're welcoming...solar wind? The sun? I don't know how long you've been here, but the sun and its wind have been around for quite some time. Or did you just not RTFA?

Aliens (5, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#46424321)

Simple industrial ( mining ) accident. I wonder of they have their own version of OSHA.

Re:Aliens (2)

gadget junkie (618542) | about a year ago | (#46424493)

Simple industrial ( mining ) accident. I wonder of they have their own version of OSHA.

Nah, the actual event would be obscured by an insane amount of paperwork.

It's them again, those Pencil Pushers !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46424691)

Simple industrial ( mining ) accident. I wonder of they have their own version of OSHA

Nah, the actual event would be obscured by an insane amount of paperwork.

Aaaaarrrgggghhhh !!! It's them pencil pushers again !!!

Re:Aliens (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about a year ago | (#46425375)

That's what the cloud is. Paper.

[John]

Re:Aliens (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#46424545)

Nope, no OSHA, no patents, no trademarks. They're also so advanced that we look like dirt. When they finally do come here to do trade with us they'll laugh at our backward ways, all the time our Legions o' Lawyers try to find some means of making them do business our way, despite them having everything we want and us having nothing they want (aside from puree of Bieber.)

Re:Aliens (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#46425457)

Likely, we'll be mined. Why get so many little asteroids, when they could mine a larger planet? Whether it's water, gold, nitrogen, or whatever.

Re:Aliens (1)

beanpoppa (1305757) | about a year ago | (#46425565)

Because it's a lot easier to escape the gravity well of an asteroid.

Re:Aliens (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#46425659)

The future, according to sci fi is either material poor or energy poor, and not both. So if they want our minerals, they don't have any issue with leaving our gravity well.

Re:Aliens (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#46425709)

Too bad scifi is wrong on both counts. We have a lot of both. Just maybe not on earth itself.

Re:Aliens (1)

mikael (484) | about a year ago | (#46427449)

The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter has more material than any of the inner planets. It's a fascinating debate as to they ever were part of a single planet, or never coalesced into a single object due to the gravitational perturbation of Jupiter (any large planetlets would have been thrown out of orbit).

Re:Aliens (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#46429837)

I though the total sum of the asteroid belt mass is less than the earth.

Re:Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46427519)

Depends on how cheap it is to kill everyone already here. Wars are generally expensive so fighting us for the resources seams a little unnecessary as I would assume we don't have much unique stuff here.

Re:Aliens (1)

Guest316 (3014867) | about a year ago | (#46431225)

Simple industrial ( mining ) accident. I wonder of they have their own version of OSHA.

And by OSHA, you mean MSHA [msha.gov] .

Wasn't mysterious (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#46424361)

There friends have seen it coming for weeks.

heh

My guess? (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#46424387)

The Millennium Falcon crashed. The odds of successfully navigating an asteroid belt are...well, they're not good, let's just leave it at that.

Re:My guess? (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about a year ago | (#46424587)

More likely Jango Fett detonated a concussion missile to try and kill the Jedi on his trail.

Re:My guess? (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#46426761)

That doesn't make any sense, since it would have to have taken in place in some sort of prequel, which was never made.

Re:My guess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46424919)

I thought the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field were exceptionally good, given that we've had a number of probes wander through there.

Re:My guess? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#46426489)

Don't make me do this to everyone [tvtropes.org] .

someone call Tsoukalos (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about a year ago | (#46424397)

We all know the truth. [knowyourmeme.com]

Three words (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | about a year ago | (#46424441)

Alien asteroid mining.

'nuff said.

Three more words (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#46424451)

Your post was five words.

Re:Three more words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46424507)

Your post was five words.

So was yours

Re: Three more words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46426143)

Yours was three!

Re:Three more words (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46424687)

Your post was five words.

Shut up and go back to sucking cock, it is what you do best.

Re:Three more words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46427115)

Your post was five words.

Five is right out! [youtube.com]

King Ghidora (2)

Arkiel (741871) | about a year ago | (#46424535)

"The images clearly showed a golden three-headed space dragon emerge from the cloud of debris. The eerie, high-pitched laughter of an alien demon filled the NASA command center before a bolt of gold space-lightning took out the Hubble telescope."

Re:King Ghidora (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about a year ago | (#46426871)

Aww... when you said "three-headed dragon" I was hoping you were talking about Dahak.

(Link to legal free copies of the books, because they're awesome like that: http://baencd.thefifthimperium... [baencd.the...perium.com] No personal association)

Some asteroids ... (5, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#46424851)

... have the structural integrity of a dust bunny.

Re:Some asteroids ... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#46426173)

Shouldn't a loosely-associated cluster of crap have a different name from a solid object? Or should that just wait until we can reliably tell the difference remotely

/. is dead (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#46424857)

Someone really felt the need to explain what the asteroid belt is.

Re:/. is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425103)

I'm sure you'll get that explanation in Beta... why don't you come join us yes?

Re:/. is dead (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#46425921)

You forgot to mention the part where they completely left out the YORP effect, which is blamed for the desintegration of the object...

Re:/. is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46427389)

"desintegration"

Re:/. is dead (1)

theotherbastard (939373) | about a year ago | (#46428553)

You forgot to mention the part where they completely left out the YORP effect, which is blamed for the desintegration of the object...

"I sound my barbaric YORP over the roofs of the world."

Re:/. is dead (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#46429249)

I put on my YORP and wizard hat.

Re:/. is dead (2)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about a year ago | (#46427217)

What, and where. Just in case you can't find it.

They are (almost) here.... (2)

flyonthewall (584734) | about a year ago | (#46424889)

Another obstacle removed on Vogon's galactic highway clearing.

Not much time left here...

Ah, (2)

no-body (127863) | about a year ago | (#46425043)

one can see those effects on freeways.
Round truck tire carcasses on the roadside.

Mysterious reason:

Rotational forces overcome structural integrity and thing goes bust.

Maybe use Hubble to zoom in on one of those smoking tires and document the event?

YORP effect in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425117)

Irregularly-shaped asteroids with uneven albedo can acquire angular momentum by absorbing sunlight and radiating heat; this is the proposed mechanism for the destruction of the asteroid that the summary chooses to bury. See YORP [wikipedia.org] in Wikipedia for more.

Absolutely nothing happened today in Sector 83 ... (4, Funny)

DeadDecoy (877617) | about a year ago | (#46425129)

I repeat absolutely nothing happened today in Sector 83 by 9 by 12. Please go about your day.

Re:Absolutely nothing happened today in Sector 83 (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#46426503)

No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a Boom tomorrow.

Thank you (-1, Offtopic)

duyhyundai (2933581) | about a year ago | (#46425185)

I loved this article, it really is fun and interesting Hyundai Santafe 2014 [hyundaianlac.com]

Re:Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46430367)

Please die screaming in agony.

Of course Earth fell apart. It had humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425197)

(Future post on an extraterrestrial Slashdot.)

Sounds like a bad explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425233)

The reason given for the breakup- spinning until centripetal forces break the rock up- would involve pieces sent in opposite direction, not big chunks all travelling together in the same general vector. Did they even look for pieces going the opposite way?

Re:Sounds like a bad explanation (1)

davewoods (2450314) | about a year ago | (#46429375)

Or if it was in motion, breaking up via centripetal forces would cause it to spread in all directions, but mostly in the direction it was traveling. (Given enough speed)

Better Picture (5, Funny)

linebackn (131821) | about a year ago | (#46425269)

That site is really script heavy, here is a direct link to a clearer picture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... [wikimedia.org]

Bizarre things not working well in a fuzzy cloud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425419)

It must have just been Office 365.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Global Warming (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#46425647)

I drove my SUV to the same Home Depot three times this week while fixing a plumbing problem. QED

Aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425671)

Must've been them ;-)

oh my (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46425875)

Micro blackhole heading our way! Earth will be swallowed! Ooo noooo...

Thanks, Captain "Unnecessary Explanation" (1)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about a year ago | (#46426019)

the asteroid belt, a region of rocky debris that occupy the space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter

Oh, that's what the asteroid belt is.

Deep and profound impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46426321)

An American space shuttle attached to a Russian nuclear propulsion system was detected at the vicinity of the break up. No veteran astronauts were killed in the process.

...and enhance! (4, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about a year ago | (#46426447)

> - - - - - `( ).

Player 1 SCORE: 150

Relevant SMBC (1)

danhaas (891773) | about a year ago | (#46427089)

How nasa should handle announcementsÃ

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id... [smbc-comics.com]

SMBC is becoming almost as relevant as xkcd...

Re:Relevant SMBC (1)

davewoods (2450314) | about a year ago | (#46429393)

As it should. SMBC is just as funny as XKCD, and he posts more often!

Maybe they just weren't right for each other (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | about a year ago | (#46427153)

Mysterious breakup indeed

Headline (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year ago | (#46427227)

"We should see other celestial bodies"

Bruce and Ben (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46428527)

Has anyone seen Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck lately? Coincidence?

Hint To New Theory of Solar System Formation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46443605)

Another hint how vital solar winds play a key role in forming our solar system. They also explain the strange spin of asteroids and now even the break-up of asteroids. So far the impact on the spin of our planet and thus the length of day was not yet considered. More examples here: http://bit.ly/1h5UrXx

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