Asteroids crash head on

There used to be a popular video game called Atari Asteroids (online version here)  where you were captain of a little space ship, actually a little triangle, and had the power to smash up asteroids before they smashed you.

But there in the real universe it’s no laughing matter. NASA said today that the Hubble Space Telescope has found a “mysterious X shaped  debris pattern” with dust trails that suggests two asteroids have smashed into each other head on.

Asteroids - Hubble picture

When worlds – or rather asteroids do collide – they apparently do so at an impact speed of over 11,000 miles an hour. The object snapped by Hubble is called P/2010 A2 and pictures show a complex x-pattern near the nucleus.

The nucleus is around 460 feet in diameter. The evidence suggests that the phenomenon is not a comment and P/2010 A2 orbits in the asteroid belt. The object, said NASA is 180 million miles from the sun and 90 million miles from earth, and detected using the Wide Field Camera 3 which is capable of viewing fragments just the size of your house out to the asteroid belt.