The dinosaur-killing asteroid that crashed into Earth millions of years ago may have had a twin, according to a new study.
Colliding with Earth close to 65.5 million years ago and effectively destroying the planet’s dinosaur species, this particular asteroid may fall into the binary category. A binary asteroid consists of two asteroids which orbit each other.
According to The Hindustan Times a new study suggests that measurements of the impact site, known as the Chicxulub crater, may point to the result of twin asteroid activity.
There are other known binary asteroid impacts in the Earth’s surface. However, the cases are rare with only one in 50 crater locations being attributed to binary collisions.
Conducted by Katarina Miljković at the Institute of Earth Physics in Paris, the study evaluated the size of asteroid craters on the Earth’s surface made by binary collisions.
While it is commonly believed that 15 percent of all asteroids that travel close to Earth are considered binary, only two percent of twin impacts are recorded. Miljkovic and colleagues conducted computer simulations to reveal that binary collisions often form a single crater.
To produce a single impact crater there must be a certain amount of space between each of the binary rock formations. The rarity of this event may explain why there are fewer craters attributed to twin asteroids.
According to News Scientist, the research also indicates that impacts created by binary asteroids should display a slightly asymmetrical shape, making them easier to identify.
Miljković believes that the crater shape left behind by the dinosaur-killing asteroid shows a strong possibility of falling into this category:
“The Chicxulub crater shows some important asymmetries. It is worth considering that it was formed by a binary asteroid.”
What do you think of the new research that suggests the dinosaur-killing asteroid may have had a twin?