Researchers Locate Possible Origin of Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid

Researchers found that the processes that deliver large asteroids to Earth occur at least 10 times more frequently than previously thought.

Researchers Locate Possible Origin of Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid

Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Jon Butterworth

Dinosaurs were destroyed when a massive asteroid crashed into Earth 66 million years ago

Highlights
  • Chicxulub impactor crashed in today's Mexico region
  • It wiped out 75 percent of total animal species
  • The asteroid was found to orbit the Sun with more of its kind

The asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs hit the Earth near Mexico. Dubbed Chicxulub impactor, the large rocky object had an estimated width of roughly 6 miles (10km). It produced a crater that covers an area of around 90 miles (145km) and the impact is credited with not just the extinction of dinosaurs, but also around 75 percent of total animal species at the time. This mass extinction event happened 66 million years ago and has come to be widely accepted as the end of the Mesozoic era. Now, researchers have figured out where the marauding asteroid originated.

Using computer models, researchers studied 130,000 model asteroids to conclude that this one orbited the Sun with others in the main asteroid belt before crashing into Earth.

Researchers at the Texas-based Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) said the impactor likely came from the outer half of the main asteroid belt. The asteroid belt is between Mars and Jupiter.

The researchers also say that the processes that deliver large asteroids to Earth from that region occur at least 10 times more frequently than previously thought. The SwRI team, including lead researcher Dr. David Nesvorný and colleagues Dr. William Bottke and Dr. Simone Marchi, said several studies have been conducted over the past decade on the mass extinction that ended the reign of dinosaurs but each of them has led to new questions.

Two critical questions remained unanswered, Bottke said. One of them was about the source of the impactor and the other one about the frequency of these Earth-crashing events. So, the researchers started with knowing more about the asteroid, that led them to identify the Chicxulub impactor as carbonaceous chondrite. Many objects surrounding Earth share similar compositions to the impactor but these are much smaller in size. “We decided to look for where the siblings of the Chicxulub impactor might be hiding,” said Nesvorný.

The researchers then used NASA's Pleaides Supercomputer. To their surprise, they found that 6-mile-wide asteroids from the outer half of the asteroid belt strike the Earth at least 10 times more frequently than previously found.

The study co-author Marchi described the findings as “intriguing.”


It's a John Cena double-header this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss The Suicide Squad, and later, Fast & Furious 9 (from 28:03). Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Shang-Chi Debuts New Trailers, Kevin Feige Talks ‘Experiment’ Controversy at World Premiere
Tesla Autopilot Faces US Probe After 11 Crashes, CEO Elon Musk Defends

Related Stories

Share on Facebook Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment
 
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com