Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
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The First Carbon-rich Asteroid Found in the Kuiper Belt

The First Carbon-rich Asteroid Found in the Kuiper Belt

However, the region between Mars and Jupiter did not have enough raw material to give birth to another planet and raw materials started orbiting in the region making a belt known as the asteroid belt.

As gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn formed, they are thought to have migrated through the solar system, causing chaos as they flung small rocky bodies like 2004 EW95 from their places of origin into the solar system's outer regions. But even more interestingly, this means that the asteroid (and others of its kind) could provide insight as to how the solar system looked in its earlier days. This is the first object ever found in the Kuiper belt containing these elements, all of which indicate that the asteroid formed in the inner parts of the Solar System.

The discovery of 2004 EW95, made by an worldwide team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope, helps strengthen theories about the dynamical evolution of the Solar System that describes how the planets ended up where we see them today.

Using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Tom Seccull, a doctoral student at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, and his colleagues examined light signatures from the icy surfaces of Kuiper belt objects. The new asteroid which is now discovered in the Kuiper belt was eventually hurled out billions of miles from the asteroid belt present in between the Jupiter and the Mars. At that time, researchers noticed that the asteroid's reflectance spectrum-the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object-was quite different from other similar small objects found in Kuiper Belt, suggesting it might came from somewhere else.

One of the most widely accepted models of the Solar System's early evolution is the Nice model - named after Nice in France where the model was developed.

Using ESO telescopes, researchers have measured the composition of a lonely object lurking in the outer edges of our solar system and tracked its origin.


"It's like watching a giant mountain of coal against the darkness of the night sky", says Thomas Puzia, co-author of the study and professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

This research was presented in a paper entitled "2004 EW95: A Phyllosilicate-bearing Carbonaceous Asteroid in the Kuiper Belt" by T. Seccull et al., which appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"The discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt is a key verification of one of the fundamental predictions of dynamical models of the early solar system".

Further analysis of the asteroid revealed that it is a carbonaceous asteroid (C-type asteroid). It is the first time that such an asteroid carbonate, a remnant of the primitive solar system, is discovered in that frozen area.

As the asteroid is far away and at the same time very dark because of its abundant carbon, its observation was very hard.

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