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Study: A comet from the edge of the solar system killed a dinosaur | Voice of America

Sixty-six million years ago, giant celestial bodies struck the coast of present-day Mexico, causing a devastating “shock winter” that ultimately wiped out three-quarters of life on Earth, including dinosaurs.

Two Harvard astronomers say they have solved a long-standing mystery surrounding the nature and origin of the “Chicxulub Impactor.”

According to their analysis, it is a comet that originated in the region of ice fragments at the edge of the solar system, causing Jupiter to collide with our planet, every 250 to 750 million years. Similar effects are expected.

This duo’s treatise, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, opposes the old theory of claiming that the object is a fragment of an asteroid from the main belt of the solar system.

“Jupiter is very important because it is the largest planet in our solar system,” lead author Amir Syrage told AFP.

Jupiter will function as a kind of “pinball machine” that “kickes these incoming long-period comets into orbits very close to the Sun.”

The so-called “long-period comet” comes from the Oort cloud and is thought to be a huge spherical shell that surrounds the solar system like bubbles made of ice fragments larger than the size of a mountain.

Long-period comets are also called sungrazers because they take about 200 years to orbit the Sun and have a short transit distance.

Comets are more ice than asteroids because they come from deep freezing of the outer solar system, and are known for the stunning gas and dust trajectories they produce as they melt.

However, according to Shiraji, the effect of evaporation of the sun’s heat on sungrazers is nothing compared to the enormous tidal forces they experience when one side faces our star.

“As a result, these comets experience very large tidal forces, the largest of which is crushed into about 1000 debris, each of which is a Chicxulub-sized impactor, or It’s big enough to create an event that kills dinosaurs on Earth. ”

Siraj and co-authored science professor Avi Loeb have developed a statistical model that shows the probability of a long-period comet colliding with the Earth, matching the age of Chikshurube and other known influential people.

Loeb told AFP that the previous theory that an object was an asteroid produced an expected proportion of such events that were off by about 10 times compared to what was observed.

“Beautiful sight”

Another piece of evidence supporting the origin of comets is the composition of Chicxulub. Only about one-tenth of all asteroids from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter are composed of carbonaceous chondrites, but most comets have it.

Evidence shows that the Chicxulub crater, the Vredefort crater in South Africa, which was attacked about 2 billion years ago, and the 1 million-year-old Zaman sinker in Kazakhstan, all contained carbonaceous chondrites.

The hypothesis can be tested by further studying these craters, the craters on the Moon, or even by sending a space probe to take samples from comets.

“It must have been a beautiful sight to see this rock approaching 66 million years ago, which is larger than the length of Manhattan Island,” Robe said. “Ideally, track such objects and divert them if necessary.”

Loeb added that he was excited about the prospect of the Chilean Belarubin Observatory going live next year.

The telescope may be able to see the tidal disruption of long-period comets. “And it’s definitely very important to make a forecast for the next 100 years to know if something bad can happen to us,” he said.

Syrage and Loeb calculated that impactors like Chicxulub would occur once every hundreds of millions of years, but “that’s statistical,” Loeb said. “You say’on average’. That’s sometimes,” but you never know when the next will come. ”

“The best way to find it is to look for the sky,” he concludes.

Study: A comet from the edge of the solar system killed a dinosaur | Voice of America

Source link Study: A comet from the edge of the solar system killed a dinosaur | Voice of America

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