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article imageGiant Remnants of Cosmic Collision Found Beyond Neptune

By Tea Lulic     Mar 14, 2007 in Technology
Scientists have found shiny, gray space boulders floating in the outskirts of the solar system. These are possibly remnants of an ancient fiery collision involving two massive objects (one of them was nearly the size of the Pluto).
So, why is this important?
Because this remnant can one day in the future become one of the biggest comets every known and seen on the Earth. This remnant is a part of the collisional family. It is found in the Kuiper Belt which is found beyond the orbit of Neptune.
2003 EL61 is the parent of this collisional family. 2003 EL61 currently has a diameter of about 930 miles. Before the collision, researchers say that there was a possibility of it being 20 percent larger.
2003 EL61
The history of 2003 EL61 dates back when it collided with an object half of its size and going at the speed of nearly 7,000 mph. Scientists used to think that it was bigger than Pluto. However, later on, they found out that that was not possible.
According to a study team, the amount of energy generated in the collision between 2003 EL61 and another object could have equaled about 10 billion nuclear bombs.
“In terms of collisions in the solar system, that’s actually kind of mild,” Ragozzine (one of the researchers) told
Since its collision, 2003 EL61 spins every four hours. It is spinning so fast that its body which used to be spherical is now the shaped like a football.
This research is important because it could lead researchers to finding more about the collisions that formed Pluto-Charon system and our Moon.
The collision in between the 2003 EL61 and another object occurred approximately 4.5 billion years ago, causing large, icy chunks to be blasted into space.
The estimated time when 2003 EL61 will become a comet is approximately billion years from now.
I almost fell of my chair when I read a quote from one of the scientists that said that the collision that would equal 10 billion nuclear bombs here on the Earth, is just a mild energy generating collision up in the space. All I know is that I wouldn't want to be on the Earth when 2003 EL61 leaves its Neptune belt and starts spinning towards us. Interesting thing is that scientists found pieces of 2003 EL61 in the Kuiper Belt, which, as you have read, are from the collision that occurred 4.5 billion years ago. According to some websites that I have researched, most of the these pieces will turn into comets. Some of them might even head towards the Earth.
More about Giant remnants, Cosmic collision, Neptune
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