Maverick asteroid might be an immigrant from outside the solar system | Science News

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Maverick asteroid might be an immigrant from outside the solar system

Found in Jupiter's orbit, the rock travels around the sun in reverse from the planets

By
8:00am, May 21, 2018

NOT LIKE THE OTHERS  Many asteroids share Jupiter’s orbit (illustrated, not to scale). Most asteroids travel in the same direction around the sun as the planet. But there’s one moving in reverse, which could indicate it came from outside the solar system.

An asteroid that flouts the norms of the solar system might not be from around here.

The renegade asteroid travels around the sun in reverse — in the opposite direction of the planets and most other asteroids (SN: 5/13/17, p. 5). Now two scientists suggest that’s because the space rock originated from outside the solar system, according to a paper published May 21 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.

Astronomers Fathi Namouni of the Côte d’Azur Observatory in Nice, France, and Helena Morais of Universidade Estadual Paulista in Rio Claro, Brazil, used computer simulations to show that the asteroid, which shares its orbit with Jupiter, could have been traveling in reverse ever since the solar system’s youth. Because asteroids in the infant solar system formed from

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