This is what it looks like when an asteroid starts to fall apart.
By Mike Wall | SPACE.com
Two long, narrow tails of material are streaming from (6478) Gault, a 2.5-mile-wide (4 kilometers) rock in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, a new study reports.
Gault completes one rotation every 2 hours — so fast that the asteroid is flinging material off its surface into space, study team members said.
„This self-destruction event is rare,“ co-author Olivier Hainaut, of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, said in a statement. „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.“