UFO or Something Else?

Schematic of active asteroid P/2013 P5This past September, astronomers spotted something strange rattling around the asteroid belt of our solar system. Whatever it was seemed to be spouting bursts of light from various points around its perimeter.  In the past, I’ve seen photos of similar objects that people swore up and down were UFOs hovering over Earth. So I had to see if the astronomers had the answer.

Sure enough, they introduced the world to asteroid P/2013 P5, notable for its six tails. The images of this phenomenon were caught by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope which is located atop the Haleakala volcano on Maui, in Hawaii.

According to researcher David Jewitt, who is associated with the University of California, Los Angeles, “We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it. Even more amazing, its tail structures change dramatically in just 13 days as it belches out dust. That also caught us by surprise. It’s hard to believe we’re looking at an asteroid.”

Labelled view of extraordinary multi-tailed asteroid P/2013 P5A Tale of Six Tails

It seems not all the tails formed at once which leads the researchers to speculate that the asteroid wasn’t hit by another object. They think it probably encountered greater radiation pressure in space that overwhelmed its own weak gravity forcing the asteroid to start rotating quickly. That fast rotation would be enough to cause the asteroid to start spewing pieces of itself into space.

As the “jets” of matter began to form, they caused the asteroid to start rotating more or less out of control.

The scientists said this six tailed asteroid is new to science, as none have ever been recorded before. They think it may have once belonged to a much larger rock that broke up around 200 million years ago. I’m not sure how they can tell that.

They were able to calculate that P/2013 P5 has lost between 100 and 1000 tons of its mass, a fraction of what the 1400 foot diameter rock contains.

The asteroid was also recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope during September of this year.

Silly Explanations

I want to share a few “strange” photos with you that people have attributed to UFOs, but were easily explained by science. First up, it was claimed that this was a huge UFO leaving the sun’s corona.

UFOLeavesSun

It’s just something the sun itself is ejecting, or else, something falling into the sun’s corona. There is no reason to believe that is a UFO at all.

Next, what was called a Crystal UFO over England. Why couldn’t it be a firework? Or a meteor breaking up as it fell into the Earth’s atmosphere? Or God forbid, a plane exploding in mid-air? I see nothing UFO-ish in it.

UFOCrystalOverEngland

 

Finally, the Comet Elenin. I believe this is an artist’s rendering of the comet, yet there are people who swear a “fleet of UFOs” are using its tail as “cover” to go, well, where that comet was/is going, I guess. Clearly, those are just stars beyond the comet.

UFOCometElenin

Legitimate UFOs

I am aware that there are some legitimate UFO and alien reports; I’m not saying that I totally don’t believe in UFOs and aliens. But I think they are very rare. I think it’s far more likely people are seeing Earth phenomena that they don’t understand, or experiments being conducted by our military as well as foreign militaries, that wind up misleading people wherever they are seen.

So while this new asteroid may not be as exciting as a legitimate UFO sighting, it’s still very interesting. The vastness of space still seems to have oodles of surprises to throw at us, much like the vast depths of our unexplored oceans. And that’s also exciting!

Til the next time!

15/30 (Halfway through the challenge! Whew!)

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