Never before an asteroid was found changing color until Asteroid 6478 came into the picture. It has the innate potential to change color from red to blue in the near-infrared spectrum. It has been captured by NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii.
“It is the first time scientist have observed a color-shifting asteroid, in real-time,” says the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The change of the color from red to blue isn’t quite visible to the human eye. “We think we have witnessed the asteroid losing its reddish dust to space, and we are seeing the asteroid’s underlying, fresh blue layers.”
It orbits around 3.7 kilometers around the inner region of the asteroid belt with a distance of around 346.6 million kilometers from the Sun. The experts keen to know the possibilities of such a change in the color of asteroids since these rocky metallic bodies formed closer to the Sun in warmer conditions, so there’s not much ice left to melt. It has been also observed that the 6478 Gault is producing not one but two tails, which is a clear indication that something else must be the cause of this change.
“It is the first time to my knowledge that we see a rocky body emitting dust, a little bit like a comet,” says Masset.
“I think the study reinforces the fact that the asteroid belt is a really dynamic place,” says astronomer Francesca DeMeo, from MIT.
The scientist has assumed the possibility of the dusty exterior of the asteroid which gets stripped away due to continues travels through space thus giving them a quick color change. Experts, therefore, think that there is a lot happening out there every moment.