May 6, 2014 spike

Bizarre Asteroid Discoveries

Where do asteroids come from?

Most secular astronomers believe that they’re leftovers from the formation of the Solar System.

Supposedly, there was a big cloud of gas. From the gas, dust formed. From the dust, rocks formed.

The rocks stuck together to become asteroids. The asteroids stuck together to become bigger asteroids (known as “planetesimals”). The planetesimals then stuck together to become planets.

As I discussed in my first astronomy DVD, there are lots of problems with this idea. Nevertheless, most secular astronomers believe it anyway.

(Why? Because all the alternative secular ideas have even worse problems.)

And so they believe that the asteroids we see in the Solar System today are left over from this primordial building process. The asteroids are supposedly planetesimals that never gathered together to make more planets.

They’re just boring chunks of rock—the leftovers of a process that was finished eons ago.

But somebody forgot to tell the asteroids that they’re supposed to be boring…

Recent discoveries show that asteroids are weirder
than anyone expected.

There have been a string of unexpected asteroid-related discoveries lately.

One comes from the asteroid with the humdrum name P/2013 P5. (Boring, right?)

Scientists were shocked to discover that this asteroid was spouting a tail—as if it were a comet instead of an asteroid.

Then they realized that the asteroid isn’t actually spouting a tail.

It’s spouting six tails.

P/2013 P5. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt

Needless to say, asteroids don’t normally do this.

So what’s going on here? The consensus view is that the asteroid’s tails are made of dust and debris ejected out from the asteroid.

This material doesn’t appear to be the result of a collision (because that would have produced a big burst of debris, which isn’t what we see). Instead, many astronomers are speculating that the asteroid’s rate of rotation has increased, to the point where the asteroid is starting to break up.

Soon after P/2013 P5 started to get attention, another asteroid decided to join the fun. Astronomers noticed that an asteroid named P/2013 R3 looked really weird.

P/2013 R3. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt

Upon closer examination, it turns out that this asteroid isn’t an asteroid anymore.

It’s fallen apart, and has turned into a slowly-expanding cloud of rubble. There are at least 10 separate pieces now.

The interesting thing is that as far as we can tell, nothing struck this asteroid either. It didn’t break up because of a collision.

It just… fell apart.

Again, astronomers are scratching their heads over this. The leading explanation is something called the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect, where sunlight heats the asteroid unevenly and imparts a spin.

In this case, it’s proposed that P/2013 R3 spun faster and faster until it finally broke apart.

Here’s what’s interesting about all this.

The secular model is supposed to show how asteroids built themselves up to become bigger and bigger. As I said earlier, this doesn’t work—the models actually predict the destruction of asteroids instead.

These recent discoveries show that…

There are even more destructive processes than we had thought.

And here’s something to ponder.

If mere sunlight can cause asteroids to break themselves apart, how much stronger would the effect have been early in the Solar System’s alleged history, when the rocks were still tiny—before they had “grown up” into big strong asteroids?

At that point, the rocks would have been far less massive, with a far greater ratio of surface area to volume. This would have made the sunlight’s effect far stronger, and presumably would have made it even more difficult to form asteroids from gas and dust.

Although, to be fair, the secular model already says that it’s impossible to get asteroids from gas and dust.

And if something’s already impossible, it can’t get “even more” impossible… can it?


Top image: Asteroid 243 Ida and its moon Dactyl. Credit: NASA/JPL