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The Asteroid

Via GeekPress: Nature reports that the source of the asteroid that allegedly wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago has been found.

Bottke’s team stumbled across the finding while searching through the massive Sloan Digital Sky Survey database. The team was examining a group of fragmented rocks called the Baptistina asteroid family, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, when they noticed a spot of sky that seemed to be empty. “We literally saw a hole,” Bottke says.

He and his colleagues quickly realized that the hole was the result of the gravity from nearby Jupiter and Mars, which together had conspired to push and pull, over millions of years, some of these fragments further into the centre of the Solar System. Computer models run by the team show many of these fragments gradually slipping into orbits that cross Earth’s, he says. “It was almost inevitable that a piece of it would hit the Earth.”