Tags: solar | system | full | rogue | asteroids

Solar System Full of Rogue Asteroids, Study Shows

Friday, 31 Jan 2014 06:14 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Scientists believe the solar system is full of rogue asteroids after conducting a study, published in the journal Nature, on the region between Mars and Jupiter, the solar system's main asteroid belt. It was originally thought that asteroids formed in place.

Researchers feel that "the asteroid belt is a melting pot of bodies that formed all over the solar system," Francesca DeMeo, lead author of the study and an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN.

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Scientists in the 1980s reasoned that asteroids formed in a cold environment were farther from the sun, while those that formed in a hot environment were closer to it. Only 10,000 asteroids had been discovered at the time. But scientists began to realize that theory didn't hold true: rocks that should've formed in the cold-climate areas formed elsewhere, and vice-versa.

Though an asteroid's temperature can't be measured, it can be deduced using its geological origin. An asteroid rich in carbon was likely formed far from the sun, according to CNN.

As a result, a theory exists that the planets have shifted over time. Jupiter, in fact, may have once been as close to Earth as Mars, according to HNGN.com.

"It's like Jupiter bowled a strike through the asteroid belt," Francesca DeMeo, an MIT researcher, said in a news release.

The belief that asteroids didn't necessarily remain static in their orbits once created could change the perception regarding how the Earth's solar system was formed, as well as the solar systems of other stars.

"That [theory] has been completely turned on its head," DeMeo said. "Today we think the absolute opposite: Everything's been moved around a lot and the solar system has been very dynamic."

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