Solar System Full of Rogue Asteroids, Say Researchers

January 31, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Our solar system full of rogue asteroids, say scientists from MIT and the Paris Observatory this week.

Scientists thought that asteroids were static and stayed closer to the Sun, but new observations over the past 10 years indicate that there’s more “rogue” asteroids–or asteroids that show up in unexpected places in the solar system.

“That [theory] has been completely turned on its head,” Francesca DeMeo, with MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement, according to RedOrbit. “Today we think the absolute opposite: Everything’s been moved around a lot and the solar system has been very dynamic.”

DeMeo and other researchers came up with a map that includes the size, location, and composition of more than 100,000 asteroids in the solar system.

The asteroid map suggests that the early solar system could have underwent dramatic changes before the planets began their current alignment. The findings suggest that Jupiter may have been closer to the sun, which in turn, pulled asteroids with it before it went to its current position.

“It’s like Jupiter bowled a strike through the asteroid belt,” DeMeo said, according t0 PhysOrg. “Everything that was there moves, so you have this melting pot of material coming from all over the solar system.”

Clark Chapman, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said the new map provides a better understanding of the solar system.

“What they have done is attempted to at least qualitatively describe how the unexpected relationships between asteroid size, distance from the sun, and composition fit into the current dynamical models and other insights from the past two decades,” he said in a statement “I’m very glad that this basic research has been done, and I think it is a most welcome contribution to understanding the solar system.”