Monday, 12 November, 2018

Ancient Space Rock Ejected From Inner Solar System Discovered — Exiled Asteroid

05_08_asteroid Ancient Space Rock Ejected From Inner Solar System Discovered — Exiled Asteroid
Sandra Phillips | 10 May, 2018, 16:30

But that was after it was formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said.

Some scientific models already suggested that some carbonaceous asteroids could have been expelled to the Kuiper belt, but until now no one had been able to detect it reliably. They thought that as large planets wandered through the solar system during its early days, they kicked a few more traditional rocky asteroids out to this cold, dark exile. The core idea is that after its chaotic beginnings, the gas giants brought further turmoil as they migrated inwards towards the Sun and then outward, disrupting and scattering objects as they traipsed through the Solar System.

However, despite detecting several space objects in the Kuiper Belt, the theory wasn't proven until the carbon-rich chunk 2004 EW95 was observed and analyzed.

The 300km-long asteroid was discovered by astronomer Dr Wesley Fraser, of Queen's University Belfast, in Northern Ireland. The early days of our Solar System were a tempestuous time.

After measurements from multiple instruments at ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers led by Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom were able to measure the composition of the anomalous Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95, and thus determine that it is a carbonaceous asteroid.

The asteroid - called 2004 EW95 -has been found in 2004 orbiting about 2.5 billion kilometers (4 billion km) from Earth from the donut-shaped ring of rock and ice at the edge of the solar system known as that the Kuiper Belt.

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Smaller, carbon-rich objects that typically would have populated large swarths of space closer to the Sun, were consequently booted out and flung billions of kilometres beyond the orbit of Neptune, some 30 plus astronomical units (AU) away.

At a recent paper published in the March issue of this Astrophysical Journal Letters, a global group of investigators took a thorough look at the subdued light reflecting from the Kuiper asteroid 2004 EW95.

Such models suggest the Kuiper Belt should contain a small number of rocky bodies, perhaps also carbon-rich asteroids.

The "exiled" asteroid was first noticed by Wesley Fraser, an astronomer at Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, during routine observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, due to the asteroid's distinctive reflectance spectrum.

"It's like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky", said team member Dr. Thomas Puzia, from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

But although "there have been previous reports of other "atypical" Kuiper Belt Object spectra" - indicating the objects were made of substances not normally found in the region - none were confirmed to the level of quality of 2004 EW95, Olivier Hainaut, an ESO astronomer who was not part of the team, said in the statement. "We had to use a pretty advanced data processing technique to get as much out of the data as possible", Seccull said.

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