World's most powerful space telescope captures huge asteroids colliding

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has captured evidence of two massive asteroids colliding with each other, resulting in a plume of cosmic dust.

1 minute & 17 seconds read time

Asteroids are windows into the ancient history of the galaxy and our solar system, making them one of the most valuable astronomical objects to observe.

World's most powerful space telescope captures huge asteroids colliding 51456165

The process of asteroid formation is dust particles slamming into each other over and over again until they form a bigger mass. This mass is floating around a larger mass object, such as our Sun or a large planet. The constant collisions with more particles eventually form what we now call an asteroid, and from those asteroids colliding with other asteroids around a local star, we get planets.

Now, researchers from Johns Hopkins University announced on June 10, 2024 they captured evidence of a massive asteroid collision within the Beta Pictoris star system located approximately 63 light-years away from Earth - which is the equivalent of how far away next door is in terms of galactic scale. The discovery was made using data obtained by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the world's most powerful space telescope, and data from Spitzer.

"We think all that dust is what we saw initially in the Spitzer data from 2004 and 2005. With Webb's new data, the best explanation we have is that, in fact, we witnessed the aftermath of an infrequent, cataclysmic event between large asteroid-size bodies, marking a complete change in our understanding of this star system," stated the researchers

The findings were presented at the 244th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and according to the researchers, two massive asteroids collided within the Beta Pictorias star system only about 20 years ago. Using the telescopes, the team discovered a huge plume of dust, which was estimated to be 100,000 times larger than the dust caused by the asteroid that hit Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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