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Asteriod Collision....

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The Hubble Scope has done it again...


Scientists Witness Trail of Asteroid Collision.....

(Oct. 13) -- For the first time ever, scientists have front-row seats to one of the solar system's great demolition derbies.

Stargazers have long known that asteroids slam into each other every now and then, but they've never been lucky enough to witness the result of a collision as it unfolds -- until now. Pictures snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope at the scene of the impact reveal a bizarre, X-shaped debris trail unlike anything in the solar system.

"People send me e-mails saying it's obviously a Klingon spaceship following the asteroid across the sky," astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, an author of a new study on the collision, told AOL News. "We say, 'We don't think so.'"

D. Jewitt, ESA / NASA

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured pictures of a bizarre, X-shaped debris trail that resulted from an asteroid collision.

Jewitt, who was responsible for getting Hubble to take pictures of the aftermath, says the smash-up would've packed a punch equal

to 1,000 tons of TNT.

The smaller of the two asteroids -- which was roughly as big as a king-sized bed -- was vaporized. It dug out a crater that scarred 10 percent of the surface of the other space rock, which was bigger than a football field, Colin Snodgrass of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research told AOL News.

Snodgrass and his colleagues calculated that the fatal encounter took place Feb. 10, 2009, plus or minus a few days. The debris was first spotted by a New Mexico telescope on Jan. 6, 2010.

That means that "unbelievable as it seems, astronomers are now able to monitor collisions between asteroids in real time," wrote astronomer David Nesvorny of the Southwest Research Institute in a commentary that appears alongside two new studies describing the crash.

Sponsored Links Some of the world's biggest telescopes were trained on the patch of debris, as was the camera of a European spacecraft on its way to study a different asteroid.

"This opens a new way to study asteroids," Jewitt said. "'How do asteroids die?' is the question that we'll be able to answer."

William Bottke, an asteroid expert at the Southwest Research Institute, told AOL News that the new studies were based on sound science and that he'd always wanted to see a collision as it unfolded.

"My hope was, we would we see something like this," he said. "I'm dying to know much more."

The two new studies appear in today's issue of the journal Nature.

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