How does an asteroid make a meteor shower?
Comets do it by evaporating. When a comet flies close to the sun, intense heat vaporizes the comet’s “dirty ice” resulting in high-speed jets of comet dust that spew into interplanetary space. When a speck of this comet dust hits Earth’s atmosphere traveling ~100,000 mph, it disintegrates in a bright flash of light—a meteor! Asteroids, on the other hand, don’t normally spew dust into space—and therein lies the mystery. Where did Phaethon’s meteoroids come from? Sign up for EXPRESS SCIENCE NEWS delivery One possibility is a collision. Maybe it bumped against another asteroid. A collision could have created a cloud of dust and rock that follows Phaethon around in its orbit. Such collisions, however, are not very likely. Cooke favors another possibility: “I think 3200 Phaethon used to be a comet.” Exhibit #1 in favor of this idea is Phaethon’s orbit: it is highly elliptical, like the orbit of a typical comet, and brings Phaethon extremely close to the sun, twice as close as Mercury itself