It’s been just revealed that an asteroid early warning system that’s been designed to spot potentially dangerous objects just made a mind-blowing discovery billions of years in the making.
Hawaii astronomers have observed the very first-of-its-kind space rock that has the characteristics of a comet and asteroid.
An unusual space rock
This extremely unusual space rock is reportedly a part of a swarm of objects that are sharing an orbit with the planet Jupiter – these are known as Trojans.
Express revealed that the asteroid was observed by the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) – this is a NASA-funded early asteroid warning system.
It’s been also reported that the rock was officially designated 2019 LD2 by The Minor Planet Center.
It’s also important to note that there are other observations that revealed a faint trail of gas or dust behind the asteroid – this was the element that was giving it the appearance of a comet.
When comets are racing around the Sun, they are melting, and the frozen chunks of ice and rock are leaving behind such tails of dust and glowing plasma as well.
On the other hand, asteroids are too rocky or metallic to be affected by the Sun in the same way as comets.
The first one of its kind
The space rock that we mentioned above is the very first one to spew out dust and gas like this.
Astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University Belfast stated that “We have believed for decades that Trojan asteroids should have large amounts of ice beneath their surfaces, but never had any evidence until now.”
He continued and said that “ATLAS has shown that the predictions of their icy nature may well be correct.”
The online publication mentioned above noted that the asteroid LD2 passed behind the Sun in late 2019 and at the beginning of this strange year, and it was not visible from Earth until April.