KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Scientists have spotted an asteroid orbiting the sun in the same path as Jupiter. But there’s something unusual about this asteroid: It’s circling the sun in the opposite direction. That’s because, experts believe, it’s not from around here.
“It’s an asteroid, and astronomers are pretty sure that it’s from another solar system,” said Daniel McIntosh with UMKC. “It was captured probably early on in the formation of our solar system.”
That means the asteroid, named “2015 BZ 509,” has been in our solar system for 4.5 billion years.
McIntosh said it calls attention to what he describes to his students as “solar system pinball.”
“Just knowing that all that stuff is out there,” McIntosh said. “The pinball, the ammunition to hit the earth, it’s all out there and most of it’s in a happy orbit going around the sun, far away, but every once in a while things pass by.”
It happened in Russia in 2013 when an asteroid exploded above a city. McIntosh said the government needs to do a better job of tracking asteroids and comets on a potential collision course with earth.
“We’re basically spending zero on monitoring for earth crossing asteroids,” McIntosh said. “Eventually they’ll pick up one that has a chance to hit us.”