Currently in the asteroid belt between marsand Jupiter, there are about 800,000 objects, and once a year it is a rare phenomenon - the destruction of one of the asteroids under the influence of sunlight. The process begins during the uneven heating of its surface, as a result of which the object begins to rotate faster and the centrifugal force exceeds the force of gravity. That is what happened recently with the asteroid Gault (6478 Gault) - the Hubble telescope, interacting with devices from other countries, filmed two tails consisting of its fragments.
Asteroid Gault was discovered in 1988planetary scientists Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker. The name was given in honor of geologist Donald Gault, who made an enormous contribution to the study of craters on Mars, the Moon and other space objects. The width of the asteroid is approximately 4–9 kilometers, the length of the largest tail is estimated at 800,000 kilometers, and the smaller one is four times less. They were formed during a certain event that occurred around October 28 and December 30, 2018.
Scientists believe that the destruction occurred due toexposure to sunlight during the YORP effect. The assumption of a collision with another space object was immediately rejected, because there are no dust clouds near the object, which are formed after strong impacts. Thus, self-destruction remains the most realistic explanation, and this phenomenon is extremely rare. According to the calculations of researchers, the asteroid tails will be visible for several more months, and then the debris will be scattered in outer space.
Observation of the two tails was the first signasteroid instability. The study of this phenomenon will allow astronomers to study the structure of asteroids more thoroughly, which will subsequently make it possible to take a fresh look at the history of the formation of planets in the early eras of the solar system.
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