There's no hiding from anything these days!
It’s got to be pretty cool being an asteroid. You are as ancient as the stars and custodian to their most intimate secrets. You are the guardian of rich treasures that can reveal secrets about the formation of the solar system and you cruise the vastness of space, bearing witness to wonders of a sort that we poor Earth-tethered humans can only dream of.
It’s got to suck then when, halfway through another of your magnificent interplanetary tours, and minding your own business you are suddenly smashed into by another asteroid (probably uninsured) that wasn’t paying attention to where it was going.
And just think how embarrassing it must be for the offending party – he had the infinite expanses of empty space to travel through and, somehow, he managed to hit another asteroid.
So, like all uninsured drivers, he is left with a choice: leg it and hope no-one saw what happened, or, stop and face the consequences? Well, unfortunately for Mr Hit ‘n Run, those pesky humans have parked the ultimate surveillance camera in your neighbourhood.
Yes, he has been ‘Hubbled’.
Revealed yesterday is the photographic evidence of just such a collision and it seems that ‘X’ marks the spot. Scientists believe that he images, taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, show the for the first time a collision between two asteroids and reveal a strange X-shaped object that had never been seen before.
The collision took place in the asteroid belt (a sort of M25 motorway for rocky debris) that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The 122 metre-wide object in the image is believed to be the leftovers of a larger object that collided at some 17,700 kilometres per hour with a smaller 4 metre-wide rock. The smash would have released energy equivalent to a small atomic bomb. Asteroid collisions are actually pretty common but this is the first time that we have seen one unfold.
Time to get out your insurance details Mr Hit ‘n Run.