(ORDO NEWS) — Unexpectedly, astronomers discovered previously unknown asteroids in the vicinity of the solar system. Asteroid specialists from the Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences of the State University of São Paulo have identified 19 space rocks of interstellar origin.
Such asteroids belong to the class of “centaurs” – objects of the outer solar system, orbiting between Jupiter and Neptune. Here is what Professor Maria Helena Moreira Morais, one of the co-authors of the new study, said about this:
“The solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago in a stellar nursery with its systems of planets and asteroids. The stars were close enough to each other to facilitate strong gravitational interactions that led to the exchange of material between the systems. Therefore, some objects that are now in the solar system must form around other stars.”
“Until recently, however, we could not distinguish between the detected interstellar objects and objects formed around the sun. The first identification was made by us in 2018″.
The first identifier referred to by Professor Morais was the asteroid 514107 Ka’epaoka’awela, which translates as “the harmful satellite of Jupiter’s opposite motion.”
The rock has taken a path corresponding to Jupiter’s orbit for at least 4.5 billion years, but today it orbits the sun in the opposite direction to the planets.
“When we identified it as an object that came from outside the solar system, we did not know if it was an isolated incident or part of a huge population of immigrant asteroids. In this latest study, we learned about 19 centaurs of interstellar origin.”
The centaurs identified in the study have highly inclined orbits relative to the plane of the planets’ orbits.
“To investigate the origins of these objects, we created a computer model that works like a time machine, with trajectories backtracking 4.5 billion years.
Taking as a basis the age of the Universe since the first light, we found out where these objects were at that time.”
The planets and asteroids that originated in the solar system emerged from a thin disk of gas and dust that once orbited the sun. For this reason, they all moved in the plane of the disk 4.5 billion years ago. If the “centaurs” were formed in the solar system, then they should have also moved in the plane of the disk at this time.
The researchers said their simulations showed that 4.5 billion years ago, these objects revolved around the Sun in orbits perpendicular to the plane of the disk. They also did so in an area away from the gravitational effects of the original disc. These two discoveries showed that the “centaurs” did not originally belong to the solar system and must have been captured from nearby stars during the formation of the planets.
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