(300163) 2006 VW139

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(300163) 2006 VW139
Time-lapse video of (300163) 2006 VW139
Discovered by Spacewatch
Discovery date 15 November 2006
MPC designation (300163) 2006 VW139
Orbital characteristics[2]
Epoch 18 April 2013 (JD 2457800.5)
Aphelion 3.66075114 AU
Perihelion 2.4340321 AU
3.04739164 AU
Eccentricity 0.2012736
5.32 yr (1943.08 days)
Inclination 3.24071°
Known satellites 1
Physical characteristics
15.929 ± 0.71925

(300163) 2006 VW139 is an unusual object in the asteroid belt. Hubble was used to image the asteroid in September 2016, just before the asteroid made its closest approach to the Sun and revealed it includes two asteroids with comet-like features orbiting each other.[3] Two asteroids of almost the same mass and size, orbiting each other at a distance of 60 miles.[3]


Asteroid (300163) 2006 VW139 was discovered by Spacewatch in November 2006 and then the possible cometary activity was seen in November 2011 by Pan-STARRS. Both Spacewatch and Pan-STARRS are asteroid survey projects of NASA's Near Earth Object Observations Program, after the Pan-STARRS observations it was also given a comet designation of 288P. This makes the object the first known binary asteroid that is also classified as a main-belt comet.[3]

Cometary Activities[edit]

Observations of Hubble Space Telescope revealed ongoing activity in this binary system, the combined features of this binary asteroid - wide separation, near-equal component size, high eccentricity orbit, and comet-like activity also make it unique among the few known binary asteroids that have a wide separation.


  1. ^ Hsieh, Henry H; Yang, Bin; Haghighipour, Nader; Kaluna, Heather M; Fitzsimmons, Alan; Denneau, Larry; Novaković, Bojan; Jedicke, Robert; Wainscoat, Richard J; Armstrong, James D; Duddy, Samuel R; Lowry, Stephen C; Trujillo, Chadwick A; Micheli, Marco; Keane, Jacqueline V; Urban, Laurie; Riesen, Timm; Meech, Karen J; Abe, Shinsuke; Cheng, Yu-Chi; Chen, Wen-Ping; Granvik, Mikael; Grav, Tommy; Ip, Wing-Huen; Kinoshita, Daisuke; Kleyna, Jan; Lacerda, Pedro; Lister, Tim; Milani, Andrea; et al. (2012). "Discovery of Main-belt Comet P/2006 VW139 by Pan-STARRS1". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 748: L15. Bibcode:2012ApJ...748L..15H. arXiv:1202.2126Freely accessible. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/748/1/L15. 
  2. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Browser". Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  3. ^ a b c "Comet or Asteroid? Hubble Discovers that a Unique Object is a Binary". Retrieved 2017-09-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Agarwal, Jessica; Jewitt, David; Mutchler, Max; Weaver, Harold; Larson, Stephen (2017). "A binary main-belt comet". Nature. 549 (7672): 357. doi:10.1038/nature23892.