Halloween flyby asteroid “Spooky” a dead comet?

The asteroid, known as 2015 TB145, was first spotted on October 10, 2015 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), located on Hawaii's Mount Haleakala.

Halloween flyby asteroid “Spooky” a dead comet?
Image courtesy: NASA

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: On October 10, 2015, Pan-STARRS discovered PHA 2015 TB145, a nearly 500 meter wide asteroid that will come within 300,000 miles of Earth on Halloween.

However, NASA said the asteroid poses no thereat as it will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon's orbit on October 31 at 10:05 am PDT (1:05 pm EDT).

With several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the scientists at NASA have reported, that the celestial object is more than likely a dead comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the sun.

Nicknamed “Spooky” by some, the first radar images of the dead comet were generated by the National Science Foundation's 305-meter (1,000-foot) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The radar images from Arecibo indicate the object is spherical in shape and approximately 2,000 feet (600 meters) in diameter and completes a rotation about once every five hours.

The asteroid has an eerie resemblance to a skull.

NASA quoted Vishnu Reddy, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, who said, “We found that the object reflects about six percent of the light it receives from the sun. That is similar to fresh asphalt, and while here on Earth we think that is pretty dark, it is brighter than a typical comet which reflects only 3 to 5 percent of the light. That suggests it could be cometary in origin –- but as there is no coma evident, the conclusion is it is a dead comet.”

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