Asteroid (248370) 2005 QN173 turns on a tail – 10 July 2021
Recent observations of asteroid (248370) 2005 QN173 showed that a thin, rectilinear tail is now visible. We managed to get a follow-up image, here it is.
The image above comes from the average of five, 300-second exposures, unfiltered, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available as part of the Virtual Telescope Project. The sky was hazy. The asteroid and its faint tail are visible in the center of the image and are marked in the upper left inset. The SL-8 R/B satellite trail, crossing the entire field of view, is also visible.
The faint tail is shorter than 1’, mainly because a bright star is heavily contaminating most of it.
The tail was reported by the ATLAS survey on July 7, while it does not show on their 27 June images. A collisional event could have triggered the tail on, as well as other causes. In the past, we tracked a similar case, involving asteroid (6478) Gault.
We will try to image the object again, possibly under better sky conditions.
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