It is one of the most remarkable moments in the history of the Earth: the extinction of the dinosaurs. Much is still unknown about this, but a new theory fills in those knowledge gaps and sweeps away old hypotheses.
Scientists are eager to understand exactly what happened 66 million years ago, because humanity can one day be struck by an enormous force from outer space.
Some researchers argue that the dinosaurs have been wiped out from India by large-scale lava flows, but most academics adhere to the theory of the Chicxulub Impactor; an impact of a space body near Mexico, causing a devastating horror to spread over the earth wrapped, a continuous night arose, winter lasted 18 months, and fire rains descended from space on earth. Three-quarters of life on Earth disappeared.
What we don‘t know is whether the Earth was struck by a comet or an astroid, where it came from, and how the intense force arose.
The Oort Cloud
New research published in Scientific Reports by, among others, prominent professor Avi Loeb (Harvard University) provides an explanation for this. The theory gives rise to a little. According to Loeb and co, the first dominostest fell into the Oort Cloud, a collection of thousands of comets on the edge of our solar system — there the researchers already deviate from previous theories.
A comet from the Oort Cloud was attracted by Jupiter’s gravity, headed towards our solar system and found its way towards the Sun. “Jupiter works as a pinball machine,” says student Siraj, who worked on the article, to the British newspaper The Independent. “Jupiter hits those incoming comets into a certain orbit. That brings them close to the sun.”
These are comets that come extremely close to the sun, so-called sunshavers. “Sometimes such a sunshader is so close to the sun that one part feels more gravity than the other part.” This creates a force that eventually splits the sunshaker into several parts. One of the smaller comets that then emerges can, by chance, race on Earth.
So no asteroid?
The researchers, with their theory about the Oort Cloud, reject from previous scientists, because the theory booklets currently dictate that it was not a distant comet, but an asteroid, originating from an area between Jupiter and Mars. But research at the crater would suggest more primitive objects, carbon-containing chondrites, which are widely represented in the Oort Cloud.
The scientists suggest follow-up research on craters on the Moon. A lot of hope is also located on the Vera Rubin Observatory. That telescope is now being built in Chile and should be ready by 2022. “We are likely to see small fragments from the Oort Cloud come to Earth more often,” says Professor Avi Loeb. “I hope we can test this theory with more data on sunshavers, better statistics and maybe evidence of those fragments.”