Hubble Space Telescope spotted double tails after a historic asteroid impact

(ORDO NEWS) — A few weeks after NASA’s DART space probe crashed into an asteroid, scientists noticed something unexpected – a space rock had grown two tails. They were able to “see” the space telescope “Gubble”.

The DART mission on September 26 collided with a small asteroid called Dimorphus to test potential technology to protect the Earth from the asteroid.

Within two days, the Sun’s radiation pressure pushed the asteroid’s debris into a comet-like tail that stretched about 10,000 kilometers.

But now a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows that Dimorphus has grown another tail. NASA employees called this phenomenon “quite unexpected.”

Scientists do not know why the second tail formed

If we imagine that the asteroid is the center of the clock, then DART appeared from the direction of 10 hours.

The bright lines at 1 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock are not debris; these are diffraction peaks caused by the Hubble optics. Two tails appear at 2 and 3 o’clock.

Hubble Space Telescope spotted double tails after a historic asteroid impact
Hubble image shows two tails erupting from asteroid Dimorphus

The second tail appeared sometime between October 2 and 8, NASA said in a statement. Since the impact, Gubble has observed the asteroid 18 times.

Astronomers have seen similar double tails develop on comets, so this isn’t a complete surprise. However, scientists are not yet sure exactly how the second tail formed.

Success of the DART mission

The fact that Dimorphus lost enough material to form such a large tail reflects the severity of the blow.

The main purpose of the DART mission was to measure how long the collision cut off Dimorphus from orbit around the larger asteroid Didymos.

The mission was supposed to shorten the orbit, which was originally 11 hours and 55 minutes, by 73 seconds, although before arrival, scientists estimated that the change could be tens of minutes.

Instead, the orbit has been reduced by 32 minutes , which mission personnel announced earlier this month.

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