(ORDO NEWS) — The Hubble Space Telescope continues to track the aftermath of a DART probe colliding with a small asteroid satellite.
His new data show that the tail of the substance ejected after the impact began to weaken, but a second one appeared next to it.
At the end of September, the DART probe collided with Dimorph, a tiny satellite of the asteroid Didyma.
The mission was to try to change the trajectory of its movement by testing the possibility of deflecting celestial bodies from a dangerous trajectory due to impact.
In general, the experiment was a success : observations showed that Dimorph’s orbit changed after the collision.
The time of its revolution around the asteroid was reduced by about half an hour, and the raised debris and dust formed a tail that stretched for more than 10 thousand kilometers.
All this time, ground and space telescopes, including the famous Hubble, have been monitoring the state of Dimorphoma. He watched as Dimorph’s tail gradually faded and dissipated.
However, a surprise was the appearance of the second tail, which formed between October 2 and 8.
“In the coming months, we will take a closer look at the Hubble data to determine how the second tail came about,” the scientists write. “There are a number of possible scenarios.”
Indeed, such “forked” tails are found in some comets and asteroids that are actively losing matter. In particular, it can be observed near the NEOWISE comet when approaching the Sun.
Its tails are formed from various materials ejected from the surface and interacting with the solar wind in different ways.
However, the exact reason for Dimorph’s twin tail remains a mystery. It is possible that a small satellite began to partially collapse in the area adjacent to the original impact site.
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