A new study shows that a great majority of asteroids and meteorites are the result of the splintering of minor planets that formed when our solar system was very young. The study was published on 2 July in Nature Astronomy, and it made an exciting discovery.
There are about 200,000 asteroids in the inner asteroid belt, and at least 85% of them originate from five or six ancient planets. The rest could have the same origin as the other primordial bodies, said the lead author of the study, Stanley Dermott, who is both professor emeritus in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a theoretical astronomer at the University of Florida.
We Need to Know About the Large Bodies’ Origin
Dermott found that the new information could be essential to protect the Earth from incoming impacts:
“These large bodies whiz by the Earth, so of course we’re very concerned about how many of these there are and what types of material are in them. If ever one of these comes towards the earth, and we want to deflect it, we need to know what its nature is.”
He and his team demonstrated that an asteroid’s orbit depends on its size. The findings point towards the fact that the meteorites found on Earth are different because of the difference occurring inside large bodies that existed over four billion years ago:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually trace the origins of all asteroids in the main asteroid belt, not just those in the inner belt, to a small number of known parent bodies.”
Dermott concludes that knowing more about the history of the bodies’ evolution which formed our solar system could help theoretical astronomers answer questions related to the universe. They could find out if there are planets like our own out there in space. But first, Dermott says they must understand the process that made our planet develop life.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.