Force of Small Pebble May Initiate Destruction of Gault

Force of Small Pebble May Initiate Destruction of Gault


Hubble observed something that is very unusual in the sky – a self-destructing asteroid called 6478 Gault or Gault.

The name Gault derived from planetary geologist Donald Gault. The asteroid is four to nine kilometers long with two tail-like comets. These tails prove the activity of ejecting some material in space or Gault is tearing apart.

The asteroid is tearing due to a process called Yarkovsky–O’Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack (YORP) torque conducting the scattering of Gault. Sunlight reflected on the asteroid heats it and produce infrared radiations (IR). These radiations emitted into space carry momentum and heat with it. This leads to create a force and make an asteroid speed of rotation.

The faster spinning of asteroid produces the centrifugal force and pulls the asteroid in parts. This is eventually powerful than the gravitational force. During this process, the rocks and dust emitted from the asteroid for creating tail debris.

This destruction is rare

Olivier Hainaut, the European Southern Observatory, at Germany, explains that the phenomenon is really rare. Also, among the 800,000 asteroids, the rupture between Jupiter and Mars is the only YORP disruption observed per year.

But, Hubble and other advanced telescopes are watching these wild asteroids.

Gault is imperative as the phenomenon of YORP event is and has the least time of rotation of two hours. It might on the edge of instability for the next 10 million years and a tiny disturbance might trigger the recent outburst. A pebble-sized of disturbance might initiate this outburst.

More about Hubble:

Hubble Space Telescope – a telescope launched low Earth orbit in the year 1990 and still working. Further, it is one of the versatile telescopes that are conducting vital researches, which is boon for public relations to astronomy.