What Was This Strange Ball of Fire Seen in Canada? Researchers on the trail of the asteroid

What is this object that turned up 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 originated in the Oort Cloud, an article on the website explains Science October 5, 2022. The Oort Cloud is a vast spherical assemblage of bodies located between the Kuiper Belt boundary and approximately 150,000 astronomical units (au).

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Similar discoveries in recent years

But now, thanks to data collected during its fall, experts believe the object was made of rock rather than ice, and therefore looks more like an asteroid. Other independent observers also claim that this discovery could shed light on the formation of the solar system and that the Oort Cloud would not consist entirely of icy comets. “It sheds light on the scattering and deposition of matter from across the solar system in the Oort Cloud”says Karen Meech, a researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Astronomy.

For his part, Bill Bottke, a dynamics specialist in the lab Southwest Research Institute, believes the discovery could support some models that objects from the asteroid belt were scattered in the Oort cloud. Until then, scientists assumed that this cloud was populated when the gravitational muscle of Jupiter and the other giant planets scattered objects made of ice. They had been left behind when the outer solar system formed. These objects have been recognized as comets for years.

But back in 2016, Karen Meech’s teams had spotted one of them whose tail was ice-free. It could have been an asteroid, suggesting that the Oort Cloud is not as homogeneous.

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A fast and shiny object

Since then, hundreds of equivalent objects have been discovered, but they have never been proven to be asteroids. But with this latest discovery, that could change things. “He was brilliant, very fast and left a glowing train in the center of the atmosphere”, describes Denis Vida. By working on images of Global Fireball ObservatoryUsing a network of high-precision cameras, they calculated the object’s trajectory and determined that it came from the Oort Cloud.

The object penetrated deeper into the atmosphere very quickly, suggesting that it was composed of rock rather than ice. Before breaking up into two phases. By crossing different studies, the researchers determined that 1 to 20% of the Oort Cloud could be made of rock. There are still many unanswered questions, but this discovery could shed new information about elements that are still puzzling.

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The asteroid responsible for Earth's largest crater was much larger than previously thought, according to the study

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