STATES CHRONICLE – We’ve been trying to figure out the secrets of our Universe ever since we first developed an imagination. But seeing as it’s only recently that we’ve managed to look beyond our solar system, we’ve still got a very long way to go. Still, even before recent times, humans have had a fascination with the stars.
But now, thousands of years after ancients civilizations were drawing star maps and were predicting when comets will pass by our planet, we’ve finally discovered something never before seen. A team of researchers from the University of Hawai’i Institute for Astronomy discovered the first ever tailless Manx comet.
Named after the tailless Manx cats, the comet might provide us with answers about the origin of our planet and even that of our entire galaxy. This is because the researchers are pretty sure that the Manx comet originated here, in our very own solar system. If that were to be the case, the comet most likely contains particles that would show us the early composition of our solar system.
Dubbed C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), the Manx comet most likely formed very close to Earth from space dust hovering around our solar system, and was subsequently thrown away from every nearby celestial body by the gravitation of the inner, much bigger planets. Currently, it is located twice the distance of the Earth from the sun.
First discovered in 2014, the Manx comet takes about 860 years to travel once around the sun. This means that it goes out as far as the Oort Cloud. Plus, it is the first comet ever seen to contain material from our inner solar system. This is owed to the fact that the comet travels so far out that it didn’t have the opportunity to be thawed out by the sun’s warmth.
According to a scientist from the University of Hawai’i involved in the project, Karen Meech,
We already knew of many asteroids, but they have all been baked by billions of years near the Sun. This one is the first uncooked asteroid we have found: It has been preserved in the best freezer there is.
She is referring, of course to outer space, the best refrigerator known to man. But things are bound far more interesting if scientists actually manage to get their hands on any samples from the floating space rock. The fact that the Manx comet doesn’t have a tail means that it hasn’t really been around any stars and that most of its composite materials are still part of it.
Analyzing those compounds would offer us invaluable information related to how our solar system formed in the first. Even though we do have some ideas about what might have happened, they are still just theories because of our lack of evidence. It doesn’t matter that they make sense, we simply have no way of telling if what we believe is actually true.
Image source: Flickr