The ‘Asteroid’, P/2013 R3, Disintegration Captured By Hubble Telescope Is Really A Comet, Not An Asteroid!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.
Anura Guruge

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The news media has been agog, for the last few days,
with stories of the Hubble capturing the breakup of an asteroid.


Google NEWS search, just now, of “Hubble asteroid”.

As soon as I saw the coverage, something bothered me (given my knowledge of comets).

P/2013 R3 is NOT a valid IAU designation for an asteroid!

It is a bona fide designation for a bona fide comet — albeit a ‘Main-belt‘ comet, i.e., a comet that NOW have orbits that don’t take them much outside of the asteroid belt.

That P/2013 R3 appears in the Wikipedia entry for ‘Main-belt comet’ is a dead giveaway, even if you don’t appreciate the significance of the naming designation.


Here is an explanation of cometary naming from my ‘Comet ISONblack book. If it was an asteroid it would have been A/2013 R13.

So this is rather confusing. A comet, as opposed to an asteroid, disintegrating, is not really such a big deal.

We also SAW what happened to poor ‘Comet ISON’ on November, 28, 2013.


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