: For the first time, the disintegration of an asteroid has been photographed
. Between October 2013 and January of this year, the Hubble Space Telescope
captured images of asteroid P/2013 R3 fragmenting into 10 pieces, which then began to drift apart at the leisurely rate of about 1.5 km/h. Because the breakup has been gradual rather than instantaneous, it is unlikely to have been caused by a collision. Sunlight may have increased the asteroid’s rate of rotation and caused it to break into pieces, says David Jewitt of UCLA and coauthor of a paper
published in Astrophysical Journal Letters
. The asteroid fragments that don’t plunge into the Sun may one day become meteors.