Scientists managed to identify 88 asteroids and meteoroids that are aligned around Comet Encke and that would form the so-called ‘complex of the taurids’. In addition, they revealed that 67% of the 51 new members of that complex had cometary activity. These discoveries also suggest that they formed after the fragmentation of a larger comet that entered the solar system from the Kuiper Belt, about 20,000 years ago.
According detailed Ignacio Ferrín, astronomer from the University of Antioquia (Colombia), and Vincenzo Orofino, from the University of Salerno (Italy), authors of the research carried out with the technique known as ‘Secular light curve analysis’ and which was published in Science Direct, what is observed in the Taurid complex are the remains of very varied objects, characterized by a intense past of impacts against the Earth, which can still represent a danger to the planet.
One of the components of the Encke’s wake, responsible for annual meteor showers, is a group of meteoroids that, upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, give rise to a meteor shower. One of these events is known as the ‘Tunguska’, which occurred on June 30, 1908, when an igneous object flew thousands of kilometers over Siberia before exploding in the vicinity of the Podkámennaya Tunguska River.
According to Ferrín, two weeks before the impact, Comet Encke was at your minimum distance of the Earth, reason why it affirmed that what happened “was not coincidence”, but that “implies that they are associated.”
The specialist also expressed concern about the fragmentation of the Taurid asteroids, since they could leave behind material so small that it cannot be detected, but that they would be dangerous before a possible impact against the Earth. In that sense, he recalled that “the Tunguska cosmic body was between 60 and 90 meters in diameter” and added that they estimate that “the taurid complex contains many objects of that size.” “It is not the quiet, simple and innocent complex that we thought,” he concluded.
Another fact that involves taurids was investigated in 2007 by scientist Richard Firestone, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA), who linked it to an ice age known as ‘the Dryas cooling’, derived from the meteorite impact about 12,900 years ago. This fact was also related to the disappearance of the Clovis culture, a possible ancestor of most of the indigenous peoples of America.
In addition, last year, another team of researchers found evidence of this impact in deposits of molten glass and scorched earth that could be linked to the disappearance of one of the first hunter-gatherer communities in present-day Syria.