On the outskirts of the solar system, an asteroid-exile

Astronomers have discovered the first carbon asteroid in the cold outer areas of the solar system, according to The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Probably, this object formed in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and was later thrown out billions of kilometers away into the Kuiper belt.

According to the Great Maneuvering hypothesis, when the solar system was from 1 to 10 million years old, and the terrestrial planets were not yet formed, the gas giants wandered around it, then coming closer to the Sun, then moving away from it. At first, Jupiter migrated from orbit to 3.5 astronomical units (about 525 million kilometers from the Sun) into the orbit of 1.5 astronomical units, where now Mars is located. Following him, he pulled Saturn, which was forced to move into orbit in 2 astronomical units. Naturally, such trips were accompanied by large-scale consequences – it is assumed that the gas giants cleared the inner part of the solar system from “excess” gas and dust and threw away some of the building material for Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars to its far corners.

Now the research team led by Tom Seccull of the Queen’s University Belfast found support for this hypothesis and other theories, which talk about the wandering of gas giants. The scientists determined the composition of the asteroid (120216) 2004 EW95 in the Kuiper Belt, which confirmed the fact that the celestial body was once “expelled” from the inner part of the solar system to the outer region.

For the first time on the asteroid 2004 EW95 drew the attention of the group Wesley Fraser (Wesley Fraser), an astronomer from the Queen’s University in Belfast, during program observations on the “Hubble.” The reflective spectrum of this celestial body – the spectral composition of the light waves reflected from the surface of the object – differed from the spectra of the small bodies of the Kuiper belt, similar to it, which were mostly of little informative and did not allow to judge the chemical composition of objects.

An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. The red line in this image shows the orbit of 2004 EW95, with the orbits of other Solar System bodies shown in green for comparison.

An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. The red line in this image shows the orbit of 2004 EW95, with the orbits of other Solar System bodies shown in green for comparison.


The orbit of the asteroid-exile is shown in red

Subsequent study of the asteroid by the Seckall group using the X-Shooter and FORS2 receivers on the VLT telescope complex revealed that the 2004 EW95 is a carbon asteroid. In the spectrum of the object in the near UV range, a dip characteristic of asteroids of type C is observed, according to scientists, this indicates that the 2004 EW95 has a similar origin. To date, this is the largest class of asteroids – it includes 75 percent of all known asteroids. In addition, two other features of the spectrum were noteworthy, which indicate the presence of iron oxides and phyllosilicates in the asteroid. Previously, these substances in the Kuiper belt were not detected. According to scientists, their presence can be considered a convincing argument in favor of the fact that the 2004 EW95 was thrown into the Kuiper belt from the inner part of the solar system.

“Although previously there were reports of the discovery of other atypical spectra in the Kuiper belt objects, none of them was confirmed with this level of accuracy. The discovery of a carbon asteroid in the Kuiper belt is a key confirmation of one of the fundamental predictions of the dynamic models of the early solar system, “notes Olivier Hainaut, an ESO astronomer who was not part of the research team.

Recently, astronomers discovered another interesting object – the comet Oumuamua, which flew from interstellar space. This is evidenced by the orbit of the celestial body, which moves at a speed of about 26 kilometers per second.