New research suggests that there is a possibility that 19 newly-identified asteroids, all part of the Centaur category, did not originate from our own Solar System. If this were to be correct, it would mean that there is ancient matter shaped around an outlander star in orbit in our Solar System.
Centaurs are among the most interesting space rocks to be found in our Solar System. They are officially described as small bodies that rotate between Jupiter and Neptune, and that it meddles with the orbit of at least one massive planet.
Extra-Solar Space Rocks
These space rocks are located around Jupiter but are rather closer to the Sun than the Jupiter’s disc or Kuiper Belt. The fact that they interfere with at least one giant planet’s orbit means that Centaurs do not have reliable trajectories beyond a time range of a few million years.
As per a team of researchers, there are 19 Centaurs whose orbits and tilt within our Solar System can only be cleared if they did not come from here at all. Cosmic bodies in unreliable orbits around the Sun usually follow one of three outcomes: they take stable orbits around the Sun or a planet, they fall into the gravity pull of either the Sun or a planet, or they are evicted back into the interstellar space.
Before this study was conducted, only one probable extra-solar Centaur has been found, namely, 514107 Kaʻepaokaʻawela. The concept proposed by the research is not a weird one as astronomers have previously detected two comets with an interstellar birthplace, namely comet Borisov and comet ‘Oumuamua.
The authors of the paper analyzed the orbits of Centaurs that had tilted orbits in comparison to the plane of the ecliptic, which is the stratum in which most planets and asteroids move. They discovered those 19 space objects whose orbits can only be explained only if they are captured asteroids.
There’s Precedent For This Kind of Hypothesis
The researchers did not say that the gravitational engagement simulation is the evidence that Centaurs are interstellar asteroids that were pulled into our Solar System. However, if they are, it would mean that there are other segments of another Solar System that’s been caught within our own. This type of material could date back to the Sun’s formation or could have been seized within the last few million years.
There is a previous case for this type of theory: two stellar objects of Sol, HD 162826, and HD 186302. Our Sun is a G2V star believed to have formed about 4.6 billion years ago when it was rather clear that something was going on at that point in time.
For instance, the protoplanetary disc of the Solar System was definitely patched with heavy metals by a supernova that blew off close while the planets were starting to form. The explosion was not that close to destroy the disc, but it left a bruise we can still see.
Irrelevant of where they came from or how long ago they developed, scientists are expecting to learn a lot about conditions in other parts of the galaxy.
Paula is an outstanding reporter for Henri Le Chat Noir, always finding new and interesting topics to bring to the portal. She mostly crafts Science and Technology news articles, covering everything one needs to know about those niches. Paula studied at Concordia University.