February 9, 2023

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The fireball that blasted through the Canadian sky wasn’t your typical meteor

“It had an unexpected combination,” an international research team discovered by analyzing videos and images of a trail of light that ripped across the sky in the Canadian province of Alberta.

A fireball captured by the Global Fireball Observatory camera at Lake Miculon Provincial Park, University of Alberta / Alberta

The fireball that tore through the skies over the Canadian province of Alberta last year was no “typical” meteor. Scientists who studied its trajectory proved that the object originated from Ai The edge of the solar systemIn a mysterious region of space called Cloud of Oort, which is believed to be the source of icy comets passing through the inner solar system. Ejecting material from the Oort cloud is not an uncommon phenomenon, but the way the material burned up in the sky was revealed Something extraordinary And, until now, it has not been seen in objects that have appeared in that region of space.

By analyzing videos and images of the explosion, an international research team led by scientists from Canada’s Western University has indeed discovered it. Instead it is made of ice Like everything else coming from the Oort cloud — ammonia, methane or frozen water — the exploded material had an “unexpected” composition. The subject was probably Made of rock, it challenges long-held theories In the formation of this globular cloud, it is the remnant of the original nebula from which the Solar System formed.

The results of the analysis are described in a newly published study On that day Natural AstronomyThey recommend “A completely different model of the formation of the Solar System supports the idea that a significant amount of rocky material coexisted with icy material within the Oort cloud. – Corresponding author of the study, researcher Denis Vida of Western University said -. This result This is not explained by traditional models of the formation of the solar systemThis completely changes the rules of the game”.

Previously, all rocky flares burned into the Earth’s atmosphere came from near-Earth space regions. “Then 70 years of regular observations, one of the most unique ever recorded Adds Hadrian Devilboix, a research associate at Australia’s Curtin University and co-author of the study. During its flight, the Alberta fireball descended much deeper than the icy material in a similar orbit in the atmosphere, and dispersed like a fireball that would have knocked down a rocky meteorite: Proof that it is indeed made of rock”. In contrast, icy comets from the Oort Cloud are soft objects like dusty snowballs that slowly evaporate as they approach the Sun. Set attribute tail Can extend to millions of kilometers.

Now the challenge for scientists is to understand how this rocky meteorite found itself at the edge of the solar system, which could answer the puzzle of our origins. “The better we understand the conditions under which the solar system formed, the better we will understand what is needed to fuel life. – concluded Dr. Vida -. We want to paint as accurate a picture as possibleThese early moments of the solar system were crucial to everything that followed”.

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