It was in 2017 that astronomers discovered Oumuamua, touted to be the first interstellar object that reached the solar system. In 2019, an amateur astronomer discovered another interstellar object now known as 2I/Borisov. Now, a team of researchers has discovered a swarm of 19 asteroids that are currently lurking between Jupiter and Neptune. Scientists who made the discovery revealed that the rogue space bodies could have reached the solar system from another star system.
More details of the asteroids
Even though they came from another star system, the asteroids have been orbiting the sun since the birth of the solar system. According to the researchers, the asteroids were part of a group of space objects known as Centaurs. The objects might have been orbiting another star billions of years ago when the stars were much closer to each other.
"The close proximity of the stars meant that they felt each other's gravity much more strongly in those early days than they do today. This enabled asteroids to be pulled from one star system to another,'' said Fathi Namouni, a researcher at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, in France.
Before coming to this conclusion, the researchers ran computer simulations going back in time to the days when the solar system was in its infant stages. The simulations suggested that the swarm of asteroids was orbiting the Sun on a plane perpendicular to planetary motion during these ancient times. The mysterious asteroids were also located far from the disc that results in the formation of space bodies within the solar system, and it indicates that the space bodies are actually from a different star system.
Understanding interstellar asteroids
The researchers believe that the new discovery could help to know more about interstellar asteroids, and can also compare them with asteroids present within the solar system.
"The discovery of a whole population of asteroids of interstellar origin is an important step in understanding the physical and chemical similarities and differences between Solar System-born and interstellar asteroids," said Maria Helena Morais, co-author of the study, Science Alert reports.
Will these asteroids hit the earth?
A few months back, another study conducted by researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan had suggested that asteroids lurking in the asteroid belt could one day approach the earth for a potential collision. The asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
However, the newly discovered asteroids are located between Jupiter and Neptune, and as a result, the chances of a potential collision are pretty less.