Scientists have studied the orbits of asteroids that could potentially destroy life on Earth or to create favorable conditions for its development on other planets.
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Astrophysics Mattia, Galiazzo and Rudolf Dvorak of the University of Vienna in cooperation with Elizabeth silber of brown University studied the fate of the centaurs — small bodies of the Solar system, the original orbits are between Jupiter and Neptune. The researchers counted the number of close passes and collisions with planets of terrestrial group after the so-called Late heavy bombardment about 3.8 billion years ago, as well as the possible size of craters resulting from collisions with Earth and the other planets of the group. The study described in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
For the most part belong to the centaurs TRANS-Neptunian objects and constitute a part of the near-earth sources. Therefore, it is important to understand the development of their orbits, which in some cases can lead to collision with the planets of terrestrial group and provoke a catastrophic event.
“We calculated the approximate size of the craters. They can become active comets due to the presence of water in many of them. We also calculated the approximate amount of water that came down, which is comparable with the volume of water in the Adriatic sea. We found subregions of the centaurs, from which the possible impactors,” explains Mattia, Galiazzo.
The inner Solar system and the Solar system between the planets-giants / © Mattia Galiazzo
The size of the craters can reach hundreds of kilometers in diameter. However, given the known population of centaurs, most of the craters would be less than ten kilometers. The scientists focused on the two collisions since the Late heavy bombardment on Earth and Venus. This “bombing” was not as intense as the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. But the centaurs on average, much faster and heavier. For small centaurs (with a diameter of less than one kilometer) the frequency of collisions is much higher — approximately 14 million years for the Earth every 13 million years for Venus and 46 million years for Mars. The researchers found that nearly half of the centaurs can enter into the terrestrial region, and about seven percent of them are able to interact with planets of terrestrial group. They can also be the cause of catastrophic events on Earth in the past.
These results are important for the analysis of catastrophic events of extraterrestrial origin, which occur on such planets as Mars and Venus.
“Our work provides a system for better understanding past events and how they might change life on Earth and other terrestrial planets. Such events can have a direct impact on the lives or by its destruction (e.g. on the Ground) or to create favorable conditions (e.g., hydrothermal activity) for the formation of new life. In addition, our results provide more answers to questions about the evolution of the modern Solar system,” says Galeazzo.