Where Did the Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Come From? Scientists Finally Have an Answer

Where Did the Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Come From? Scientists Finally Have an Answer

A massive space impactor measuring between 10 and 15 kilometres wide put an end to the dinosaur era roughly 66 million years ago. The huge beasts had been roaming the surface of the Earth for a much longer period than humans had until now. Dinosaurs had been dominating our planet for about 165 million years.

But where did such a huge asteroid or comet come from? Can it have its origin beyond the solar system? Did it arrive from our own cosmic vicinity? Could it had even been an intergalactic object? Did a divine being send it to our planet to make room for the human race? While we also take into account the idea of the laws of physics themselves being governed by supernatural forces, the direct astrophysical cause of the Chicxulub impactor was a different one.

The asteroid belt represents the origin of the Chicxulub impactor

Scientists had long been uncertain about whether the Chicxulub impactor was an asteroid or a comet. According to new research published in the Icarus journal, a giant dark primitive (GDP) asteroid was to blame for killing the asteroids long ago.

Researchers studied 66-million-year-old rock samples found in the Chicxulub crater that’s located underneath the Yucatán Peninsula from Mexico and it measures 150 kilometres in diameter. The conclusion was that the space rock was part of the carbonaceous chondrites class of asteroids.

Credit: Pixabay.com, Родион Журавлёв
Credit: Pixabay.com, Родион Журавлёв

It was a bit confusing at first, considering that very few carbonaceous chondrites bigger than a mile wide have collided with Earth as far as scientists know. The researchers shifted their attention to searching for a possible source of carbonaceous chondrites.

Dr. David Nesvorný, who is the lead author of the study paper, wrote as quoted by TechRadar.com:

We decided to look for where the siblings of the Chicxulub impactor might be hiding.

The team had been using computer modelling and ultimately concluded that Chicxulub came from the outer half of the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. The region is filled with bigger carbonaceous chondrites asteroids left behind from the formation period of our Solar System.

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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