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Tim Kendall's Extreme Astrophysics

Asteroid 2015 BZ509 captured from outside the Solar System ~4.5 Gyr ago

21 May 2018, 17:12 UTC
Asteroid 2015 BZ509 captured from outside the Solar System ~4.5 Gyr ago
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Image credit: C. Veillet/Large Binocular Telescope Observatory and text: Sciencemag: Asteroid 2015 BZ509, orbiting close to Jupiter but in a retrograde direction, has probably been in a stable orbit for almost the whole lifetime of the Solar System, it has been found. Its retrograde orbit means it was highly unlikely to be part of the precursor proto-solar nebula, and must have been captured by gravitational interaction with newly-formed massive Jupiter. This and the age of 2015 BZ509 means it is the first object permanently resident in the Solar System to have been identified as originating by capture from interstellar space:

Astronomers first spotted the object, an asteroid called 2015 BZ509 that is orbiting close to Jupiter, in 2014. They knew it was unusual because it was traveling around the solar system in the opposite direction as almost everything else. (Its motion is shown in the animations above, with 2015 BZ509 circled.) Astronomers have found other objects in “retrograde” orbits, perhaps knocked off course by passing too close to a giant planet, but 2015 BZ509’s orbit was the weirdest of all because it is also elongated and out of alignment with the planets and other bodies.
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