The ‘X’ marks the meteor in the sky

An unusual comet called P/2010 A2 by astronomers has got the star-gazing community all a buzz. As you can see from the photographs taken by Hubble the center of the comet appears to resemble the letter ‘X’. While it probably isn’t some alien ship traversing our night skies astronomers say it is answering questions that they have been theorizing for years.

“This is quite different from the smooth dust envelopes of normal comets,” says principal investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles. “The filaments are made of dust and gravel, presumably recently thrown out of the nucleus. Some are swept back by radiation pressure from sunlight to create straight dust streaks. Embedded in the filaments are co-moving blobs of dust that likely originate from tiny unseen parent bodies.”

Hubble also shows that the main nucleus of P/2010 A2 lies outside its own halo of dust. This has never before been seen in a comet-like object. The nucleus is estimated to be 460 feet (140 meters) in diameter.

Source: NASA

At the time Hubble snapped these pictures the object was approximately 180 million miles from the Sun and 90 million miles from Earth. Needless to say we probably won’t have to worry about it knocking on our door any time soon.