First Immigrant Asteroid Discovered In Our Solar System

Posted: May 27 2018, 12:56pm CDT | by , Updated: May 27 2018, 1:15pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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First Immigrant Asteroid Discovered in our Solar System
Credit: C. Veillet / Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Unlike other objects in our solar system, the interstellar asteroid orbits the sun backwards

Astronomers have confirmed the presence of an interstellar visitor in our solar system. The object is an asteroid that did not belong to Solar System, but instead, it came from outer space.

Named 2015 BZ509, the asteroid is two miles wide and entered our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. A series of 1 million simulations helped establish the time frame. The asteroid shares the orbital space of the planet Jupiter, but it has an unusual trajectory. All of the planets and most of the asteroids in our solar system orbit around the sun in the same direction called prograde motion. But 2015 BZ509 orbits the sun backward or in the opposite direction to most of the objects seen in our Solar System. So when an object travels in a wrong direction, an outside factor must be at play.

"How the asteroid came to move in this way while sharing Jupiter's orbit has until now been a mystery," explains lead author Dr. Fathi Namouni. "If 2015 BZ509 were a native of our system, it should have had the same original direction as all of the other planets and asteroids, inherited from the cloud of gas and dust that formed them."

Although an object known as 'Oumuamua is the first interstellar visitor to be observed and confirmed by astronomers, it was just a tourist passing through. But 2015 BZ509 is different. It is a long-term or permanent resident, which makes it first known interstellar visitor to stay in our solar system. The asteroid must have been captured from another system.

"Asteroid immigration from other star systems occurs because the Sun initially formed in a tightly-packed star cluster, where every star had its system of planets and asteroids," said co-author Dr. Helena Morais. “The proximity of the stars, aided by the gravitational forces of the planets, help these systems attract, remove and capture asteroids from one another.”

With its unusual orbit, the asteroid could prove valuable and provide new clues into how other solar systems formed.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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