Not surprisingly, space rock fragments fall under the gravitational force represented by Earth. In fact it is very common to see more or less large obstructions and explosions in the sky. But what happened in the Canadian skies was unusual and intrigued astronomers.
A fireball burning about 100 kilometers north of Edmonton, Canada on February 22, 2021 was observed and recorded by several instruments, including the Global Fireball Observatory’s satellites and two cameras.
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Based on its path across the sky, a team tracked the object across the Solar System to a starting point in the Oort Cloud, a large sphere of icy material far beyond Pluto’s orbit. It’s not too strange, although it’s not the chunk of frozen ammonia, methane, and water one might expect from an object from that part of the solar system.
“This finding supports a completely different model of the formation of the Solar System, which supports the idea that a significant amount of rocky material was combined with icy material within the Oort cloud,” says Denis Vida, a physicist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
“This result cannot be explained by currently preferred models of solar system formation. It is a complete game changer.”
From this single object, the researchers were able to search the Meteorite Observation and Recovery Program database and published literature for possible origins of the Oort Cloud, and were able to identify two meteorites: the Karlstejn fireball that fell over the Czech Republic in 1997, Halley’s comet, and the 1979 comet MORP 441, in an orbit similar to that of a comet. along the path.
This suggests that rocky meteorites rarely end up on Earth after long journeys from the Oort Cloud, believed to be primordial material left over from the formation of the Solar System. Understanding how and why the objects were rocky, then ended up here, is what astronomers are trying to do.
“We want to explain how this rocky meteorite got this far because we want to understand our own origins. The better we understand the conditions under which the solar system formed, the better we understand what it takes to fuel life,” Vita explained.
“We want to paint as accurate a picture as possible of these early moments in the solar system, which are so important for everything that comes later.”
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