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Interstellar interloper found near Jupiter


Posted on Monday, 21 May, 2018 | Comment icon 8 comments

The recently discovered asteroid appears to have been here for a long time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
An asteroid believed to be from another solar system has been found orbiting the Sun in the wrong direction.
Following on from last year's discovery of the asteroid Oumuamua, scientists have now identified a second space rock that is believed to have originated from outside of our solar system and this one appears to have taken up permanent residence here.

Known as 2015 BZ509, the asteroid measures around 3km across and is thought to have been in a retrograde orbit around the Sun since the planets formed some 4.5 billion years ago.

The discovery is significant because it suggests that asteroids from elsewhere in the galaxy could have played a role in depositing the ingredients of life on to our own planet in the distant past.

"It would be very interesting to go and observe it more and understand its composition," said lead author Dr Fathi Namouni from the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur.

"Before [the discovery of this asteroid], we only had to work to explain solar system phenomena with the objects that are in the solar system and thought to be part of the solar system all the time."

"Now we have new sources of material that actually influenced the solar system - and so the solar system did not grow up in isolation."

Source: BBC News | Comments (8)

Tags: Asteroid

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 May, 2018, 16:30
2015 BZ509 could turn out to be one of the most important objects ever discovered in the solar system. Unlike 'Oumuamua it will be possible to send spacecraft to inspect this asteroid. If it does turn out to be of interstellar origin a sample return mission could bring back the first material to have been formed around a star other than our own. This will give scientists an insight into how typical the processes that created our solar system really are.
Comment icon #2 Posted by bmk1245 on 21 May, 2018, 16:43
That would be discovery of the century.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Twin on 21 May, 2018, 17:03
Couldn't it be possible this is debris from the violence which occurred during the creation of the native planets?
Comment icon #4 Posted by danydandan on 21 May, 2018, 17:17
I think it's retrograde orbit, is suggestive. But the headline reads, MAY have come from outside our Solar System, according to a new study.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 May, 2018, 17:38
That applies to the vast majority of the objects in the asteroid belt. Most asteroids are either left over debris that never began to form into a planets or the remains of failed protoplanets. Collisions and the huge gravitational influence of Jupiter prevented these asteroids from forming a planet. As danydandan correctly points out the retrograde orbit is suggestive. If this was simply debris from the creation of the solar system it should be orbiting prograde like most of the rest of the objects in the asteroid belt. Multiple encounters with other objects over billions of years could, I sup... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Twin on 22 May, 2018, 0:37
In any case, it would be great to visit and examine. I thought our comet visits were spectacular. I know these missions are meticulous and expensive, but I greatly enjoy them.
Comment icon #7 Posted by bison on 22 May, 2018, 15:17
The article, linked below, gives some interesting details about†2015 BZ 509, including how it†maintains its orbit over a long period of time. There has been a good deal of scientific skepticism about the interstellar origin of†the object. It seems that we know of about 95 small†objects in our solar system with retrograde orbits. These may have had their orbital directions reversed by gravitational interactions with other solar system bodies. No model of just how 'Bee-Zed' would have been†captured into a co-orbit with Jupiter, if it came in from interstellar space, has been produced. https://ne... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Tom the Photon on 24 May, 2018, 8:30
If you Google 2015BZ509†most of the articles are virtually identical, lazily copied from one another.† So we should read the others: Bisonís National Geographic/†link above, also https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/astronomers-spot-potential-interstellar-asteroid-orbiting-backward-around-the-sun/ or† http://www.astro.uwo.ca/~wiegert/2015BZ509/ (the animations are very helpful).† These show a more level, considered approach to BZ.† There are two unsubstantiated claims that donít stand up to rigorous scrutiny.† First: the statement that this object has been around for 4500 million years.†... [More]


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