The ‘Asteroid’, P/2013 R3, Disintegration Captured By Hubble Telescope Is Really A Comet, Not An Asteroid!
…by Anura Guruge
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The news media has been agog, for the last few days,
with stories of the Hubble capturing the breakup of an asteroid.
As soon as I saw the coverage, something bothered me (given my knowledge of comets).
P/2013 R3 is NOT a valid IAU designation for an asteroid!
It is a bona fide designation for a bona fide comet — albeit a ‘Main-belt‘ comet, i.e., a comet that NOW have orbits that don’t take them much outside of the asteroid belt.
That P/2013 R3 appears in the Wikipedia entry for ‘Main-belt comet’ is a dead giveaway, even if you don’t appreciate the significance of the naming designation.
So this is rather confusing. A comet, as opposed to an asteroid, disintegrating, is not really such a big deal.
We also SAW what happened to poor ‘Comet ISON’ on November, 28, 2013.