A rocky meteoroid that exploded over Canada last year was more extraordinary than it first appeared: it came from the outer solar system, where scientists thought only icy bodies existed.
A cavalcade of professional and amateur astronomers captured images and video of it meteoroid when it exploded over Alberta. By examining this data, the researchers determined that the meteoroid broke apart like a rocky object and survived deeper earth atmosphere than icy objects on similar trajectories. However, the analysis also suggested that the meteoroid originated from the Oort cloudmore than Pluto. The discovery of a body of rock from this region could rewrite existing theories as to how the solar system educated.
“This discovery supports an entirely different model of solar system formation, one that supports the idea that significant amounts of rocky material coexist with icy objects in the Oort Cloud,” says Denis Vida, a meteorology specialist at Western University in Canada. said in a Expression. “This result cannot be explained by the currently preferred models for the formation of the solar system. It’s a complete game changer.”
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A cool, rocky meteoroid
Scientists have always believed that the Oort Cloud consists entirely of icy objects. As passing stars displace these Oort Cloud objects, they enter the inner Solar System comets. As they do so, solar radiation causes the ice to change from solid to gas, blowing off gas and dust that form the stereotypical comet tails of gas and dust that can stretch for millions of miles or kilometers.
While astronomers have not seen any object directly in the Oort Cloud, they have seen many cometary objects formed in the region, all composed of ice. This is how scientists came up with the idea that the outer solar system consists only of ice bodies and nothing rock – a premise that they used to develop theories about the formation of our planetary system.
Rocky fireballs are observed fairly frequently, but all of the previous examples are from much closer proximity Earthwhich makes this traveler who has traveled long distances completely unexpected.
The University of Alberta caught the grapefruit-sized, 2-kilogram rock meteoroid using Australian-developed Global Fireball Observatory (GFO) cameras. Western researchers then calculated its orbit through Global Meteor Network tools. This indicated that the meteoroid was traveling in an orbit normally occupied only by icy, long-period comets from the Oort Cloud.
“In 70 years of regular fireball observations, this is one of the strangest ever recorded,” Hadrien Devillepoix, a planetary astronomer at Curtin University in Australia and principal investigator of GFO, said in the statement.
“It confirms the strategy of the GFO, founded five years ago, which expanded the ‘fishing net’ to 5 million square kilometers of sky and brought together scientific experts from around the world,” said Devillepoix. “Not only does it allow us to find and study valuable meteorites, but it’s also the only way to capture these rarer events that are essential to understanding our solar system.”
The team now wants to explain how this rocky meteoroid landed so far from the inner solar system, hoping the information could help better understand the formation of the solar system’s planets and Earth.
“The better we understand the conditions under which the solar system formed, the better we understand what was necessary to spark life,” Vida said. “We want to paint as accurate a picture as possible of those early moments in the solar system that were so crucial to everything that happened after.”
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