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... or a comet that is like an asteroid? The EU crowd will have a field day with this.
"Rock Comet" 3200 Phaethon has sprouted a tail, proving that the mysterious object is the source of the annual Geminid meteor shower.
Meteor showers originate from comets' tails, but the Geminids meteor shower has been traced to what until recently appeared like a rocky asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. It was an enigma to astronomers, until they've recently observed that at perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun), this asteroid grows a tail, like a comet. It is a dusty tail, and astronomers think that it occurs due to the intense heat of the Sun fracturing the rocky surface of this asteroid.
Even the asteroid's orbit around the Sun resembles that of a comet. en.wikipedia.org...
I always thought of asteroids as very inert bodies, but more and more of them are seen to exhibit activity like shedding dust. Turns out they can be quite a dynamic bunch.edit on 28-11-2013 by wildespace because: (no reason given)
reply to post by wildespace
Brings up an interesting question.
Is a comet defined by it's make-up/composition or by its orbit or both?
If it has to be "icy" how much ice does it have to have to be considered a comet vs. an asteroid?
Seems things are being somewhat redefined as we speak the more we learn. I think that's a good thing.