The Strange Deaths of Asteroids

From spinning to disintegrating, asteroids end their existence in some weird ways.

“They’re just rocks floating out in space. So what?” says UCLA astrophysicist David Jewitt. That’s how he used to feel about asteroids. The common wisdom holds that asteroids live placid lives before meeting a predictable, standard death: A pair collide, quickly obliterating each other. But recently, scientists have spotted asteroids behaving and dying in unexpected ways: Some have tails, some break apart into chunks and others disintegrate into smears of dust, with no ob...

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