Exiled asteroid discovered in outer reaches of solar system

NASA Detected A Huge Asteroid Right Before It Flied By Earth Last Weekend

The asteroid's reflectance spectrum - the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object - was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.

The researcher's community believed that the asteroid was formed in the asteroid belt.

Our solar system was a very busy and chaotic place in its early days. This was the first time those compounds had been seen on Kuiper belt objects, reports The Times.

Astronomers have long theorised how objects were flung from the inner solar system to far away orbits.

We haven't confirmed that 2004 EW95 is out there for this reason, and we're not entirely sure how old it is, either.

While performing routine observations using the Hubble Space Telescope, Queen's University Belfast astronomer Dr Wesley Fraser noticed something unusual about one of the distant asteroids he was monitoring.

The outward migration of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is a critical element to our current solar system formation theory.

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.

As asteroids usually contain material available in the region of their formation, the theory, popularly dubbed as the Grand Tack Hypothesis, meant some of the asteroids present in the colder regions beyond Neptune should be rich in carbon, iron, and silicon, just like rocky bodies formed closer to the sun.

"Given the current location of 2004 EW95 in the frozen periphery of the Solar System, it seems that it has been expelled into its current orbit by a migratory planet in the early days of the Solar System", says the director of the scientific team, Tom Seccull, professor from the Queen's University of Belfast.

"It's like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky", said co-author Thomas Puzia of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

"When we first looked at this, we thought it was wrong", said Mr. Seccull, the lead author of the paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Two features of the object's spectra were particularly eye-catching and corresponded to the presence of ferric oxides and phyllosilicates.

"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", said ESO astronomer Olivier Hainaut. Carbonaceous - or C-type - asteroids can be identified by their dark surfaces, caused by the presence of carbon molecules. The Kuiper Belt starts past the orbit of Neptune, roughly 30 astronomical units from sunlight, roughly 30 times the distance between sunlight and Earth, and might stretch nearly as far too interstellar space. But they started their outwards migration not long after the solar system was formed, and as they did so, they created all sorts of chaos.



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