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Dinosaur-Killing Impact From Solar System Edge, New Theory Suggests Dinosaur-Killing Impact From Solar System Edge, New Theory Suggests Dinosaur-Killing Impact From Solar System Edge, New Theory Suggests Dinosaur-Killing Impact From Solar System Edge, New Theory Suggests


Harvard researchers claim the mass extinction was the responsibility of a comet from deep space, not an asteroid from the belt past Mars. There are others suspicious.

The dominant hypothesis for decades about the extinction of dinosaurs was that an asteroid crashed into the earth from the belt between Mars and Jupiter, causing cataclysmic destruction that wiped out much of the planet's life.


But recent Harvard University study theorizes that the object triggering Armageddon originated from far further away than originally thought.

According to this new hypothesis, in an area known as the Oort cloud, the devastation originated not from a comparatively nearby meteor but from a sort of long-distance comet that came from the edge of the solar system.

Jupiter's gravity pulled the comet into the solar system. At that point, "Jupiter acts as a kind of pinball machine." according to Amir Siraj, a Harvard student who co-authored the paper with Professor Avi Loeb.

The hypothesis goes that the gravity of Jupiter shot this approaching comet into an orbit that brought it very close to the sun, the tidal forces of which forced the comet to break apart. Four of the fragments of the comet entered Earth's orbit, and one crashed into the coast of Mexico, 50 miles across, about the size of Boston.


Dinosaurs, too long.

The hypothesis also indicates that large impact craters are more likely to be made of "carbonaceous chondrite", a primitive substance dated to the origin of the solar system, such as the so-called Chicxulub crater created by this impact. The researchers said only about 10 percent of asteroids in the belt are made of carbonaceous chondrite.

The authors wrote, "Our hypothesis explains the composition of the largest confirmed impact crater in Earth's history as well as the largest one within the last million years,"


While the novel hypothesis of Siraj and Loeb has raised eyebrows in the science community, it has been criticised as well.

Bill Bottke, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, told The New York Times, "I believe their work has several inherent problems."

For starters, Bottke says, the proposed model overestimates how much the sun really pulls long-period comets apart. "There's still wiggle room if someone still wants it to be a comet," he said. "I just believe making that case is really hard."

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