Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj of the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believe that a comet struck the Earth 66 million years ago. It was she who led to the global cataclysm, which ultimately ended with the destruction of dinosaurs and the subsequent seizure of power over our planet by mammals.
They based their research on the latest astronomical observations of cosmic rocks that are approaching the Earth, as well as studies of huge impact craters located in various places on our planet. Until now, the scientific world believed that an asteroid struck 66 million years ago, but now everything indicates that it was a comet.
Most interestingly, the cosmic rock did not come, as previously thought, from the Asteroid Belt, which stretches between Mars and Jupiter, from which most objects come to us, only from the distant Oort Cloud. This is unheard of news because it is one of the most mysterious spaces of the solar system for us, about which we know practically nothing. Geologists discovered carbonaceous chondrite in a crater. It is not often found in Asteroid Belt objects. Much more often it is observed among long-period comets from the Oort Cloud.
In-depth studies of the famous Chicxulub crater off the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula revealed that an object 150 kilometers in diameter formed a comet nucleus that was 10 to 15 kilometers in diameter and struck the Earth at 50 kilometers per second. Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj believe that Jupiter is responsible for the impact of cosmic rocks on the Earth in its history. The largest planet of the Solar System knocks long-period comets out of their original path and thus end up in orbits closer to the Sun and the Earth.
This is a dangerous phenomenon for us, because the tidal forces of the Sun disrupt most of them, and their debris may later drift across the solar space of the Earth’s orbit and eventually hit it. Scientists now want to study the remaining huge craters around the world and see if they also contain carbonaceous chondrite. If so, the threat to Earth will increase significantly.
Loeb and Siraj believe that global cataclysms and extinctions are cyclical. According to them, comets are expected to hit the Earth regularly for 250 to 750 thousand years. The new Vera Rubin Observatory space observatory in Chile, which will soon start working, can shed some more light on this. Thanks to it, we will be able to observe distant objects from the Oort Belt.
Scientists call on space agencies to organize numerous large-scale missions as soon as possible, during which it will be possible to test technologies for the neutralization of space rocks. According to them, the threat posed by them increases year by year in the face of newer discoveries of objects flying very close to our planet, the existence of which we learn after the fact.
Source: GeekWeek.pl/The Harvard Gazette / Fot. Pexels / NASA
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