About 66 million years ago, a 9.6 km asteroid crashed into Earth, triggering a series of catastrophic events that led to the deaths of many dinosaurs. Scientists have found out where this asteroid came from.
According to a new study, the impact was caused by a giant dark primitive asteroid from the far reaches of the main asteroid belt of the solar system, writes Live Science.
The main asteroid belt is located between Mars and Jupiter. This region is home to many dark asteroids – space rocks with a special chemical composition that makes them appear darker (reflecting very little light) than other types of asteroids.
“I had a suspicion that the outer half of the asteroid belt — where dark primitive asteroids are — could be an important source of collisions on Earth,” said David Nesvorny, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. “But I didn’t expect the results [to be] so final.”
Clues about the object that ended the kingdom of non-avian dinosaurs were previously found buried in Chicxulub Crater, a 145-kilometer-wide circular scar on the Earth on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Geochemical analysis of the crater showed that the object of the collision was part of the class of carbonaceous chondrites – a primitive group of meteorites with a relatively high carbon content, which probably formed very early in the history of the solar system.