- Researchers review dozens of research papers on various asteroid impacts
- They Predate Comet Encke and Some Close Asteroids Share a Common Origin
- All of these sit within the Taurid stream, which may have been formed by an ancient large comet.
- The comet is not named but was at least 62 miles wide 20,000 years ago
The swarm of 88 near-Earth asteroids hidden in the debris that produced the Taurid meteor shower came from the breakup of a comet just 20,000 years ago, a new study has revealed.
Studying the various objects within the ‘Taurid complex’ allowed astronomers from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia to further understand their origins.
Large asteroids were observed in the stream in the 1980s, leading astronomers William Napier and Victor Club to suggest that they shared a ‘parent’ with Comet Encke – a periodic comet that orbits the Sun once every three years. completes a class.
According to study authors Ignacio Ferrin and Vincenzo Orofino, some of these asteroids are more than a mile wide, making them too large to originate from Comet Encke.
Their new study included a review of dozens of research papers published since the 1980s and measurements of reflected light from large space rocks.
This allowed them to offer ‘further evidence’ that Comet Encke and the larger asteroid, all came from the breakup of a 62-mile-wide ice ball 20,000 years ago.
The team says asteroids in the stream may pose a threat to Earth, and other objects from ancient comets may have collided with the planet in the past.
A swarm of 88 near-Earth asteroids hidden in the debris that produced the Taurid meteor shower came from the breakup of a comet just 20,000 years ago, a new study has revealed.
What is Taurid Complex?
Every year, from the end of October, the sky hosts a meteor shower, known as ‘Nature’s Fireworks’.
The Tauris display is created by debris left behind by Encke’s comet, named after the astronomer who discovered its annual trajectory in 1819.
Researchers at the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Science are keeping an eye on these fragments.
They have found two asteroids, called 2015 TX24 and 2005 UR, that are part of a previously undiscovered branch of the Taurids debris.
The space rocks measure 650 feet by 900 feet (200 to 300 meters) and are registered on the International Astronomical Union’s List of ‘Potentially Hazardous’ asteroids.
But the Czech team is concerned that there could be even larger objects in the hidden debris field.
Earth passes through part of the stream each year, visible as shooting stars in the sky every October in the southern hemisphere and November in the north.
Comet Encke was first observed in 1786, and, like other comets, left a stream of debris as it approached the Sun, entering the inner Solar System.
The regularly occurring close to Earth of such a large, well-populated and unpredictable complex of rocks, debris and dust has made them the subject of much academic study over the past few decades, some focusing on large asteroids. are.
Experts have previously linked Taurid impacts to the death of prehistoric cultures, and global climate cooling during a glacial period, known as the Younger Dryas.
It is also believed that the Tunguska event, in which a small asteroid exploded five miles above an inhabited part of Russia in 1908, was linked to the Taurid stream.
Millions of trees were destroyed in the country’s 1m200 square mile area, and this happened when Comet Encke was at its lowest distance from Earth.
The team behind this study said the Chelyabinsk meteor, which injured more than 1,500 people when it ruptured in 2013, likely came from the Taurid complex.
And, in 2005, NASA astronomer Rob Suggs while testing a new 250 mm telescope and video camera observed a brief flash of light from a lunar impact event, later confirming it was part of the Taurid meteor shower.
The Colombian team, along with astronomers from the University of Salento in Italy, re-analyzed dozens of published papers on the impacts, which allowed them to confirm that the complex was composed of 88 large objects.
They then used a technique called Secular Light Curves, which found changes in the brightness of each member of the complex, and found that 67 percent of them had evidence of ‘comic activity’.
This provided a ‘smoking gun’ for the shared core principle, according to the team.
Napier welcomed the findings of this new research, suggesting that having asteroids in orbits like Comet NK indicate either some unknown dynamical process, or that they are fragmenting a progenitor comet.
The team says that steaming asteroids could pose a threat to Earth, and other objects from ancient comets may have collided with the planet in the past.
What was the ancestor comet like?
The ancestor may have been a ‘debris pile’ composed of primordial, rocky or carbonaceous blocks held together inside an icy matrix.
The fragmentation of this pile, possibly due to tidal forces from the Sun or another body, would result in a variety of child objects.
The children would have been relatively large, with a pile structure of rubble, and small enough to consist of the original rocky blocks.
Olzato, one of the asteroids in the complex, would be an example of a pile of debris, held together by an icy matrix, still large enough to produce cometary activity.
Large inert objects such as Morpheus would be similar to Olzato, but their core icy components could be exhausted or sealed in the interior.
Small inert objects such as 2006 SO198 may be original rocky blocks.
‘The fact that an object shows a spectrum similar to that of main-belt asteroids does not preclude the cometary nature of that object,’ the team explained.
They estimate that it may have originated in the inner solar system, where rocky…