Both comets and asteroids are objects orbiting the sun, but comets are made of dust and ice while asteroids are made of rock, which means they have very different properties and appear differently in the sky. But there are rarely-spotted objects called centaurs which are a little bit of comet and a little bit of asteroid — hence their name after the mythical creatures which were half human and half horse. The orbits of centaurs often cross the orbits of the outer planets, which makes them unstable, and they have water ice on their surfaces which leaves a comet-like trail, but their interior composition is more like an asteroid. Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped an image of an object called P/2019 LD2 which appears to be a centaur, with a comet-like tail that is formed when surface ice starts to vaporize, leaving a long tail of matter spread across the sky. Previous observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed its composition included carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases. It's a rare thing to be able to capture an image of such a wanderer, located between Jupiter and Neptune. It is currently nestled among a group of asteroids in the… Read full this story
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