This artist’s impression shows the binary asteroid 288P, located in the main asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. The object is unique as it is a binary asteroid which also behaves like a comet. The comet-like properties are the result of water sublimation, caused by the heat of the Sun. The orbit of the asteroids is marked by a blue ellipse. | ESA/Hubble, L. Calçada.

Hubble Just Spotted a Bizarre New Object in Our Solar System

Astronomers have identified a weird pair of orbiting asteroids, called 288P, as the first known binary asteroid also classified as a comet.

This artist’s impression shows the binary main-belt comet 288P. From a distance the comet-like features of the system can clearly be seen: among them, the bright coma surrounding both components of the system and the long tail of dust and water pointing away from from the sun. Only a closer look reveals the two components of the system: two asteroids circling each other on an eccentric orbit. | ESA/Hubble, L. Calçada, M. Kornmesser
This time-lapse video, assembled from a set of ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope images, reveals two asteroids with comet-like features orbiting each other. The asteroid pair, called 288P, was observed in September 2016, just before the asteroid made its closest approach to the sun. | NASA, ESA, and J. Agarwal (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research)