An unusual main-belt comet with many tails

Main-belt comet P/2013 P5 with six tails (Image credit: David Jewitt et al./arXiv)

Main Point:

Astronomers have reported an unusual comet that has an extraordinary system of six dust tails differentiating it from other such objects.

Published in:

[sociallocker]arXiv. Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

Study Further:

Scientists used Hubble Space Telescope observations to study the unusual comet named as P/2013 P5.

P/2013 P5 was announced on August 27, 2013. It has an asteroid like orbit but possesses comet like appearance. This dual type of nature caused scientists to call it an active asteroid that is equivalent to a main-belt comet. Main-belt is the region between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by a many irregularly shaped celestial bodies.

Main-belt comet P/2013 P5 has been found to have a central nucleus and six dust tails showing significant structural changes with the passage of time. Each tail has a different ejection time showing that the nucleus of the comet is continuously active.

Scientists are of the opinion that this object from inner edge of main asteroid belt has significantly changed its structure during the course of time.


David Jewitt, Jessica Agarwal, Harold Weaver, Max Mutchler, & Stephen Larson (2013). The Extraordinary Multi-Tailed Main-Belt Comet P/2013 P5 arXiv arXiv: 1311.1483v1

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.