Grapefruit-size fireball from mysterious Oort Cloud could rewrite the history of the solar system

A fireball streaks across the sky over Alberta, Canada

A dazzling fireball that ended its cosmic journey over central Alberta, Canada could change astronomers’ understanding of how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Caught on camera on Feb. 22, 2021, the grapefruit-size rocky meteoroid is thought to have come from the Oort Cloud, a reservoir of celestial objects that encircles the entire solar system and separates it from interstellar space. Scientists have never directly observed rocky objects in the Oort Cloud and have long believed that it holds only icy objects. But the rocky object that burnt up over Canada challenges popular theories of the Oort Cloud’s formation, and the early solar system’s formation in general, according to a study published Dec. 12 in the journal Nature Astronomy (opens in new tab).

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