What is happening to asteroid P/2013 P5?
No one is sure.
For reasons unknown,
is now sporting not one but six discernible tails.
The above images were taken two months ago by the orbiting
Hubble Space Telescope
and show the rapidly changing
It is not even known when P5 began displaying such unusual
Were the main belt
asteroid struck by a large meteor,
it would be expected to sport a single
Possible explanations include that light pressure from the Sun
is causing the
rotate increasingly rapidly,
which in turn causes pools of previously gravity-bound dust to
Future observations should better indicate
how P5 and its dust plumes are
evolving and so provide more clues to its nature -- and to how many similar
asteroids might exist.
(UCLA) et al.