The asteroid 3200 Phaeton is the archaeological sungrazer and shows some strange behavior in the warmest part of its orbit. After the comet famously evaporates the ice and comes close to the sun, it leaves behind them a bright path of dust and rocks, and gas.
Asteroids, not mainly ice, being rocks, do not do so famously and yet the phaeton becomes more active as it gets closer to the sun. A new theory suggests that this is the result of sodium phishing from the inside out like a sherbet bomb in your mouth. Since the discovery, the strange blue pheasant has been seen to behave like a strange comet as it approaches the sun, becoming brighter as the object flows.
However, the volatile matter at the comet’s tail would have disappeared from the surface of Phaethon’s many millions of years ago, if they had ever existed. A research paper in the journal Planetary Science has given astronomers an explanation. In ancient Greek mythology, Phaethon was the son of Helios who tried to drive his father’s sun-carrying chariot into the sky with catastrophic consequences. The name was thought to be appropriate for a 6-kilometer (3.6-mile) wide rock that has been detected by any asteroid closest to the sun (some small unnamed corpses are still approaching).
When the Phaeton closes to the Sun – half the distance to Mercury – its daytime temperature reaches 750ºC (1,400ºF). This type of heat exposure has serious consequences. Most meteor showers are when a comet hits the Earth’s atmosphere after the ice created by the dust melts.
Geminids, one of the best meteor showers of the year, produced by lost material from the phaeton, raises questions about how dust escapes. Lead author Dr. Joseph Masiero of Caltech said in a statement, “Phaeton is a curious object that activates as it approaches the sun.”
“We know it’s an asteroid and the source of Gemini. But there is little ice in it, so we were interested in the possibility that a relatively large amount of sodium in the asteroid could be the material to carry out this activity.” Geminids hinted; they show some other meteor showers lacking the distinctive orange color of sodium burning. Since Phaeton was once supposed to be rich in sodium, its separation from the dust that caused the pre-Christmas anniversary fireworks display needs to be explained.
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