UNITED STATES: On February 22 of last year, a fireball streaked across the sky of Alberta, Canada. It is now known that it was a meteoroid. At the solar system’s edge, there is a layer of spherical objects that have been frozen in time; occasionally, some of these items are thrown in the direction of the Sun.
This region is known as the Oort cloud, and as the object moves toward the Sun, it starts to burn up in the Sun’s scorching heat, leaving behind a blazing tail.
In 2021, one of these objects passed through the atmosphere of Earth as a brilliant fireball passing above central Alberta in the US.
The fireball had information that would alter how we think about how our solar system came to be.
Although it is believed that these comets are made of ice, the comet above Alberta was not icy.
A worldwide team of researchers, astronomers, and stargazers discovered that the object’s origin was directly in the centre of the Oort Cloud.
Although scientists have not directly observed the Oort Clouds, everything that has been found coming from its direction thus far has been formed of ice.
According to research published in Nature Astronomy, the Oort cloud contains a significant amount of rocky material that traditional theories of the Solar System’s formation cannot explain.
This finding supports an entirely different theory of the origin of the Solar System, one that contends that the Oort cloud contains substantial amounts of rocky material coexisting with frozen particles.
“The most popular hypotheses for how the Solar System formed do not account for this result. It’s a total game changer,” said Denis Vida, a postdoctoral researcher in meteor physics at Western.
The grapefruit-sized rocky meteoroid was captured on video by Global Fireball Observatory (GFO) cameras, which were built in Australia and are operated by the University of Alberta.
Western experts found that its orbit is frequently solely used by frozen long-period comets from the Oort Cloud. It is important to consider that earlier rocky fireballs originated from much closer to Earth.
This is among the strangest fireball sightings that have been made in the past 70 years. It supports the GFO’s five-year-old strategy, which stretched the “fishing net” to 5 million square kilometres of skies and gathered scientific experts worldwide.
Hadrien Devillepoix, a research associate at Curtin University, added, “It not only enables us to identify and analyse precious meteorites, but it is the only way to have a chance of catching these rarer events that are vital to comprehending our Solar System”.
The space rock was seen to break apart like a fireball releasing rocky meteorites and plunging significantly more deeply into the atmosphere than frozen objects on similar orbits.
The study team is currently trying to determine how this rocky meteoroid wound up at the border of our Solar System, so distant from its origin.
“The more we comprehend the circumstances under which the Solar System began, the more we comprehend what was required to spark life”, according to Denis Vida.
“We want to portray these early Solar System events as faithfully as we can because they were so important for all that followed”, he added.