Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is well known that many deadly asteroids have recently approached towards the Earth, but did not hit our planet. Also, it is a known fact that asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. The space rocks (asteroid) approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. There are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. And now, scientists have discovered a new type of asteroid which is spinning itself into oblivion, reported express.co.uk. Yes, you read it right.
Olivier Hainaut, of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, spotted this strange space rock called as Gault. He said, “This self-destruction event is rare. Active and unstable asteroids such as Gault are just now being detected because of new survey telescopes that scan the entire sky, which means asteroids that are misbehaving such as Gault cannot escape detection anymore."
Hubble space telescope captured the image of Gault. In the picture, you can see two narrow, comet-like tails of dusty debris streaming from the asteroid (6478) Gault. Each tail represents an episode in which the asteroid shed its material, key evidence that Gault is beginning to come apart.
Take a look:
Asteroid (Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna University of Hawaii and O. Hainaut European Southern Observatory)
The disintegration of Gault has been linked to YORP effect. YORP stands for “Yarkovsky–O'Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack,” the names of four scientists who contributed to the concept. YORP describes how sunlight heats an asteroid, the resulting infrared radiation escaping from its warmed surface creates a rotational movement momentum. The process creates a tiny torque that can cause the asteroid to continually spin faster.
The researchers estimate that Gault could have been slowly spinning up for more than 100 million years. In the meantime, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stated that there are 900 asteroids with a diameter more than one kilometre orbiting Earth around the Sun. Of 900, the biggest asteroid is nearly 34 kilometres wide.
According to the US space agency, if any object passes too close to Earth then it would launch a space campaign to deflect the object.
On the other hand, one of the asteroid hunters said there could be space rocks they don’t know about which could pose a threat to Earth.