Astronomers have discovered a new kind of asteroid with a tail like a comet that spins just before Jupiter in a swarm of rocks called Trojans. The 2019 LD2 asteroid spews dust and gas from its tail like a comet.
Scientists have found comet-like asteroids before. But the unique thing about LD2 is that it’s the first asteroid of its kind to be the Trojan of Jupiter.
Scientists first observed the asteroid in June 2019 using the ATLAS system, initially defining LD2 as a weak asteroid that divides the orbit of Jupiter around the Sun. Later, in July 2019, observations revealed a comet-like tail of dust or gas stretching behind the asteroid’s main body before it escaped from view behind the Sun. When the asteroid reappeared last month, ATLAS research confirmed that almost a year later it still looked like a comet.