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The Extinction Protocol

November 8, 2013SPACEAstronomers viewing our solar system’s asteroid belt with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have seen for the first time an asteroid with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel. Unlike all other known asteroids, which appear simply as tiny points of light, this asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, resembles a rotating lawn sprinkler. Astronomers are puzzled over the asteroid’s unusual appearance. “We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it,” said lead investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles. “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.” Jewitt leads a team whose research paper appears online in the Nov. 7 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters. P/2013 P5 has been ejecting dust…

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