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Asteroid Break-Up Captured On Film For The First Time: VIDEO


NASA’s Hubble Telescope captured pictures of the P/2013 R3 asteroid breaking up into 10 pieces between October last year and mid-January, The Guardian reports. Though “fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the sun, nothing resembling this type of breakup has been observed before in the asteroid belt.”

The largest four pieces among the group are approximately 200 yards in radius.

“[The astronomers] said it was unlikely that the asteroid is breaking up because of a collision with another, because that would have caused an "instantaneous and violent" break up.

They said that the break up is also unlikely to have been caused by interior ices warming and vapourising because it is too cold – being nearly 300 million miles from the sun.

Professor Jewitt, who led the astronomical forensics investigation into the asteroid, said that it could have disintegrated due to a "subtle effect of sunlight".

He said that this can cause the rate of rotation to increase slightly, which causes the asteroid's component pieces to gently pull apart due to "centrifugal force".

This type of disruption has been discussed by experts for several years but has never been reliably observed.

The disparate parts of the once unified asteroid have since released a joint statement saying they are never, ever getting back together.

Watch the asteroid break-up for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. That's the universe releasing a load.

    Posted by: snork | Mar 6, 2014 6:16:32 PM

  2. "The disparate parts of the once unified asteroid have since released a joint statement saying they are never, ever getting back together."

    HA! :D

    Posted by: Skip | Mar 6, 2014 6:46:39 PM

  3. If only Taylor Swift was 300 million miles from the sun...

    Posted by: Jerry | Mar 6, 2014 8:22:25 PM

  4. Taylor Swift got to interview Ellen.
    Her first question was 'What's your favorite fish?'
    So yeah.

    Posted by: RayRay | Mar 6, 2014 11:44:47 PM

  5. Today, one of the solar system's longest running rock groups, P/2013 R3, called it quits. A steady fixture among the backdrop of today's hottest stars, the group had been together for as long as anyone could remember. But internal friction and the harsh light of years of unending exposure had finally taken its toll, leaving the cracks among its members impossible to ignore.

    "In the end there really was nothing but inertia holding us together.", said Etiam, who is arguably the most prominent of the newly independent members.

    "I'm sure we'll always be in each other's orbits. But for now, we really need our space."

    Posted by: Dare | Mar 6, 2014 11:45:54 PM

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