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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Giving Birth, Asteroid Style
25 August 2010 1:00 pm
Calling asteroids rocky is a misnomer. Recent space missions have shown them to be surprisingly loose agglomerations of pebbles that can barely hold themselves together gravitationally. And that may explain the phenomenon of asteroid pairs. Reporting online today in Nature, researchers say that asteroids can literally spin themselves apart, as in the simulations above, essentially giving birth. The split happens when sunlight heats the irregular surface of an asteroid unevenly, causing it to begin spinning, like a pinwheel in the wind. Eventually the asteroid rotates so fast that a big chunk breaks off. The researchers have observed 35 asteroid pairs that they think formed in this way, with the offspring less than 60% of the mass of the parent. The resulting pairs don't form binary systems, however: Lacking sufficient gravity from the parent, the newborn asteroid goes its own way, but follows its parent's original orbit.
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