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Comet or asteroid? This object is both

8 Oct 2021, 11:45 UTC
Comet or asteroid? This object is both
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View larger. | Comet or asteroid? The long streak in the upper left of in this image looks like a comet, but it lies in the asteroid belt. Palomar Observatory’s Hale Telescope in California took this composite image of the object – designated (248370) 2005 QN173 0 – on July 12, 2021. Stars in the field of view appear as short dotted lines. Image via Henry H. Hsieh (Planetary Science Institute)/ Jana Pittichová (NASA/JPL-Caltech).
Comet or asteroid?
If you saw an object in the asteroid belt with a long comet-like tail, what would you call it? A comet or an asteroid? Or perhaps a cometoid (meaning comet-like)? Scientists from the Planetary Science Institute announced on October 4, 2021, that a comet-like object in the asteroid belt that they’ve been studying is a rare type that transcends easy labeling. This object – designated (248370) 2005 QN173 – is the eighth active asteroid found, out of more than half a million known main-belt asteroids. Scientists are listing it as one of about 20 known main-belt comets.
Lead author Henry Hsieh from the Planetary Science Institute presented this study at a press conference on October 4, at the 53rd annual meeting (in this ...

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