The journal of the Royal Astronomical Society has published a new study which suggests that centaurs are bigger threats to Earth as compared to asteroids. The study reveals that further research is required to find centaurs, which are giant comets of 30-60 miles, outside our surroundings. The areas surrounding the outer planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are home to centaurs, which circle around the sun in unstable orbits.
The giant comets can be rarely captured by these planets’ gravitational force, which is also capable of redirecting these objects towards Earth. “In the last three decades we have invested a lot of effort in tracking and analyzing the risk of a collision between the Earth and an asteroid,” said researcher Bill Napier, a professor at the University of Buckingham. The mass of a centaur is higher as compared to that of the entire population of asteroids crossing Earth, according to the study.
However, it has been suggested that a centaur will break into dust and bigger pieces. This will result in the inner solar system being swamped with cometary fragments, thereby indicating essential contact with Earth. The breaking up of centaurs is likely to result in irregular but long-lasting debris floods over a period of about 100,000 years. The study further states that the danger posed by centaur is that, it is likely to infuse a nuclear winter-like dust and smoke cover in the atmosphere.