The discovery of a strange asteroid, the closest to the sun at all

What is this thing that appeared in a Canadian province on February 22, 2021? About a year and a half ago, a space rock weighing about 2 kg evaporated as it entered the atmosphere. Until then, scientists thought it was a comet because the object came from the Oort cloud, he explains The Oort Cloud is a vast spherical group of objects located between the boundaries of the Kuiper Belt and approximately 150,000 astronomical units (au).

Many similar discoveries in recent years

But now, thanks to data collected during its fall, experts believe that the object is made of rock, not ice, and therefore looks more like a asteroid. Other independent observers also claim that this discovery could shed light on the formation of the Solar System and on the fact that the Oort Cloud would not consist exclusively of icy comets. “It sheds light on the fact that there is scattering and deposition of matter from all over the Solar System in the Oort cloud,” says Karen Meek, a scientist at the Hawaiian Institute of Astronomy.

For his part, Bill Bottke, a specialist in laboratory dynamics at the Southwest Research Institute, believes the discovery could support some models showing that objects from the asteroid belt were scattered in the Oort cloud. Until then, scientists assumed that this cloud was inhabited when the muscle of gravity Jupiter And other giant planets were scattered objects made of ice in the distance. They were left behind when the outer solar system formed. These things are recognized as comets Since years. But already in 2016, Karen Meek’s teams discovered one of them whose tail was devoid of ice. It was probably an asteroid, which indicates that the Oort cloud is not homogeneous.

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fast and shiny object

Since then, hundreds of parabolas have been discovered, but it has not been proven that they were asteroids. But with this latest discovery, that could change things. “It was bright, very fast and left a luminous train behind in the middle of the atmosphere,” Denis Vida describes. Working on images from the Global Fireball Observatory, a network of high-resolution cameras, they calculated the object’s trajectory and found that it came from the Oort cloud. The object, very quickly, penetrated the atmosphere more deeply, suggesting that it was made of rock rather than ice. before splitting into two phases. By traversing different studies, researchers have concluded that 1 to 20% of the Oort cloud can be made up of rocks. There are still many unanswered questions, but this discovery may shed light on new information about the still-mysterious elements.

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