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"Exiled" Ancient asteroid discovered in the Kuiper belt reveals the "disturbed youth" of our solar system



This relic of the primordial solar system is the first carbon-rich asteroid ever discovered so far from the Sun.

Astronomers have long believed that in the early chaotic days of our solar system the newly formed planets emerged small rocky bodies from the inner regions of the system toward the outer regions of the Kuiper Belt.

According to their estimates, this icy region, which lies beyond Neptune, should be populated with a small number of carbon-rich asteroids (C-type or carbon) asteroids) ejected from the young gas giants and located billions of miles from their origin were.

Previously, researchers had to rely only on theoretical models of the early solar system to understand their "stormy" beginnings, the European Southern Observatory (ESO). But a newly discovered relic of primeval times finally confirms their speculation and testifies "the restless youth of our solar system," according to a press release from ESO.

Using the Very Large Telescope of the Observatory in Chile, a team of astronomers discovered an old asteroid in the Kuiper belt that should not have been there

The space rock, called EW95 in 2004, was characterized by its unusual reflection spectrum or light pattern he reflects, referred to as an "aberrant" Kuiper belt object. 1

9659003] "The reflection spectrum of 2004 EW95 was quite different from the other observed objects of the outer solar system," said team leader Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast in the UK

"It looked weird enough to take a closer look "he explained.

With the help of the VLT X-shooter and FORS2 Seccull's team succeeded in measuring the composition of the 300-kilometer-wide asteroid and discovering that the EW95 of 2004 is carbon-rich.

This makes it the first carbonaceous asteroid ever

Astronomers believe that EW95 formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 2004 and that it was thrown to the cold ends of the Kuiper belt during an early planetary merge.

Their theory is based on the iron oxides and phyllosilicates that the VLT has discovered in the remission spectrum of the asteroid. These materials have never before been identified in any Kuiper Belt object and indicate that in 2004, EW95 came from the Inner Solar System and was banished to its present home.

This spectacular discovery is detailed in a paper Astrophysical Journal Letters

But studying this unique and weird relic of the early solar system proved to be a daunting task. The asteroid is very far from Earth at a staggering distance of four billion kilometers, making it difficult to investigate. In addition, 2004 EW95 is not only "very weak", but also constantly on the move, notes studies co-author Thomas Puzia, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. In addition, the composition of the carbon molecules is very dark on the surface.

"It's like watching a huge coal mine against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky," Puzia said.

Olivier Hainaut, an ESO astronomer who was not involved in the study, came across the team's discovery.

"While previous reports of other" atypical "Kuiper belt object spectra are available, none has been confirmed."

According to Hainaut, the discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt confirms the predictions of theoretical models and shows that the astronomers were right with the turbulent early days of the solar system.


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