The aurora above Earth. Photo: NASA

A population of asteroids captured from other stars could be lurking in our own solar system, a new study contends.

Why it matters: Interstellar asteroids and comets represent astronomers' best chances of studying an object from another star system at close range, potentially revealing how unique (or average) we are in the process.

Details: So far, scientists have spotted two interstellar objects — Comet 2I/Borisov last year and 'Oumuamua in 2017 — but finding a population of these bits of debris from other stars in our own solar system could be a game-changer for researchers.

  • The new study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests about 19 asteroids with odd orbits in the outer solar system could have been captured from other stars billions of years ago in the early days of the solar system.
  • “The close proximity of the stars meant that they felt each other’s gravity much more strongly in those early days than they do today,” Fathi Namouni, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “This enabled asteroids to be pulled from one star system to another.”
  • Instead of being forced to wait until another interstellar object is spotted whizzing through our part of the galaxy, astronomers could study this population of asteroids more easily.

But, but, but: The origin of these asteroids may not be interstellar at all.

  • The modeling done for this study doesn't take into account all variables that may have led to the positions of these objects in our solar system, potentially skewing the results.
  • "This is an interesting thing to study because we still don't have a great explanation for how you can get things onto these orbits," planetary scientist Kat Volk, who is unaffiliated with the new study, told Axios. "But I don't think that it was solved now by this paper."

Go deeper: Hubble Telescope captures a cannibalistic galaxy

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 19,282,972 — Total deaths: 718,851 — Total recoveries — 11,671,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 4,937,441 — Total deaths: 161,248 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Warren and Clinton to speak on same night of Democratic convention

(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.

Trump considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exist

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.