More than 6,000 miles of debris trailed behind an asteroid that was deliberately hit by a NASA spacecraft.
Telescopes in Chile captured this image two days later Last month’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
It shows a tail of dust and other material from the spacecraft’s impact — it’s about the size of a vending machine and weighed half a ton before the 15,000-mph collision.
The tail is accelerating away from the asteroid, mainly due to the pressure of solar radiation, said Matthew Knight of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
Mr Knight and Teddy Kareta of Lowell Observatory made the observations using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope.
Experts believe the tails will become longer, more dispersed, and at some point become undetectable from any other space dust.
The DART mission aims to see if the asteroid’s orbit can be altered, and intends to rehearse if such an object threatens Earth.
However, the 160-meter-long asteroid Dimorphos is 7 million miles from Earth and never poses a threat in itself.
The impact on the asteroid is expected to be minimal – examining it at just 0.4 millimeters per second.
But over time, it should have a measurable impact on its orbit.
A series of terrestrial and space telescopes, including NASA and ESA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, will study the asteroid to measure the test results.