Feeds

Hubble snaps space conker bonk aftermath

'Comet like' dino-snuff astro lump bump sensation

Security for virtualized datacentres

Pic The Hubble space telescope has snapped a pic believed to show the results of two dinosaur-biffing asteroids smacking into each other in a hypervelocity collision - faster than two cannon shells fired from supersonic jet fighters hitting one another head on*.

P/2010 A2 Hubble image. Credit: NASA

In space, nobody can hear you bonk

The hubble snap shows a space thingy called P/2010 A2, first picked up by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) sky survey project earlier this month. NASA describes it as "a comet-like object", but points out that it isn't like a regular comet - a chilly body plunging into the central solar system from its usual home out in the Oort cloud or Kuiper belt, and belching a long tail of hot innards due to the Sun's heat.

Rather, P/2010 A2 is thought to be from the asteroid belt, which harbours many such snowball-esque space lumpkins as well as its well-known flying boulders. NASA says:

The orbit of P/2010 A2 is consistent with membership in the Flora asteroid family, produced by collisional shattering more than 100 million years ago. One fragment of that ancient smashup may have struck Earth 65 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

This leaves open the possibility that the complex debris tail is the result of an impact between two bodies, rather than ice simply melting from a parent body.

"If this interpretation is correct, two small and previously unknown asteroids recently collided, creating a shower of debris that is being swept back into a tail from the collision site by the pressure of sunlight," adds UCLA space gubbins brainbox David Jewitt.

It's thought to be the first photo of a space asteroid prang ever taken, though boffins believe that such events have been occurring routinely more or less forever. ®

Bootnote

* NASA says:

Asteroid collisions are energetic, with an average impact speed of more than 11,000 miles per hour, or five times faster than a rifle bullet.

A Mig-25 Foxbat fighter can go at Mach 3.5, or roughly 2600 mph. A 30mm aircraft cannon shell** has a muzzle velocity of 1700-odd mph. Closing speed would thus be 8600mph, noticeably slower than the asteroid-bonk numbers.

Bootnote Bootnote

** We are aware that the Foxbat doesn't actually have a cannon. But if it did.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.