Planet Earth could be at higher risk of a space rock impact than widely thought, according to astronomers who suggested Tuesday keeping a closer eye on distant giant comets. Most studies of potential Earth-smashers focus on objects in the asteroid belt roughly between Mars, Earth’s outside neighbour, and Jupiter on its other flank, said the researchers.”The disintegration of such giant comets would produce intermittent but prolonged periods of bombardment lasting up to 100,000 years,” the research team wrote in the Royal Astronomical Society journal, Astronomy and Geophysics.
“If we are right, then these distant comets could be a serious hazard, and it’s time to understand them better.” Scientists believe a comet bombardment may have kickstarted life on Earth by bringing water and organic molecules. A comet strike is also a leading contender for having ended the reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
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