What is this object 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 that it was a comet since the object came from the Oort cloud, it is explained in an article on the site of Sciences on October 5, 2022. The Oort cloud is a vast spherical assembly of bodies that lies 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 on the fact that the Oort cloud was not exclusively composed of icy comets. “It sheds light on the fact that there is scattering and deposition of matter from the entire solar system in the Oort cloud”says Karen Meech, a scientist at the Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.
For his part, Bill Bottke, laboratory dynamics specialist Southwest Research Institute, believes the discovery could support some models that asteroid belt objects were scattered in the Oort cloud. Until then, scientists assumed that this cloud had been populated when the gravitational muscle of Jupiter and the other giant planets had dispersed 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 already in 2016, Karen Meech’s teams had discovered one of them whose tail was devoid of ice. It could have been an asteroid, which suggests that the Oort cloud is not that homogeneous.
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A fast and shiny object.
Since then hundreds of equivalent objects have been detected, but they have never been shown to be asteroids. But with this latest discovery, that could change things. “It was great, very fast and left behind a light train in the center of the atmosphere”, describes Denis Vida. When working on images of the Global Fireball Observatorya network of high-precision cameras, they calculated the trajectory of the object and verified that it came from the Oort cloud.
The object, very fast, penetrated deeper into the atmosphere, suggesting that it was made of rock rather than ice. Before splitting into two phases. Crossing several studies, the researchers established that from 1 to 20% of the Oort cloud could be composed of rock. There are still many unanswered questions, but this discovery may bring new information to light about elements that are still enigmatic.
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