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News Release 9 of 45

April 28, 2011 11:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2011-13

NASA's SWIFT and Hubble Probe Asteroid Collision Debris

April 28, 2011: Late last year, astronomers noticed an asteroid named Scheila had unexpectedly brightened, and it was sporting short-lived plumes. Data from NASA's Swift satellite and Hubble Space Telescope showed these changes likely occurred after Scheila was struck by a much smaller asteroid.

This visible-light image of asteroid (596) Scheila was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on Dec. 27, 2010, when the asteroid was approximately 217 million miles away. The asteroid is surrounded by a C-shaped cloud, or coma, of dust particles. The asteroid body, which is approximately 70 miles across, appears star-like because it is overexposed so that the faint dust can be imaged.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), and M. Mutchler (STScI)