When you hear that there is an object in space that shouldn’t be there, the immediate reaction can be panic. But objects found in our solar system’s asteroid belt by a team of scientists are not of concern. On the contrary, they could give us very important clues about the formation of our solar system.
Using a combination of visual and near infrared spectroscopic observation, the scientists, in a paper led by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronomer Sunao Hasegawa, identified 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, two asteroids drifting between Mars and Jupiter (with Musk’s Elon Tesla Roadster undoubtedly passing every now and then). They are unusual in that they are red in hue.
Not literally. Well, not quite literally. Most objects in space are entirely inorganic, so they mostly reflect blue light (making them very difficult to spot, in case you’re too relaxed about a Deep Impact style event). Both of these objects reflect red light, suggesting “… the presence of complex organic materials on the surface layer of these asteroids, implying that they may have formed near Neptune and transplanted to the region. of the main belt during a phase of planetary migration. . “
This does not mean that these asteroids contain life, however – the organic material in this case could be carbon or methane, which suggests life. But it also suggests planets and their formation. And having them so (relatively) near us is unusual. The red objects in our solar system tend to be located in the Kuiper Belt, which is next to Neptune.
It is suspected that these objects formed in the Kuiper Belt, along with the rest, but somehow came together while everything was still in place – an idea that supports the Nice model of the training. of the solar system.
The model suggests that the solar system used to be very different, but its configuration ultimately led to… activity that shifted the planets a bit. Asteroids 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia are close enough for us to examine this idea without having to travel all the way to the Kuiper Belt for hard evidence. Jeff Bezos is on the hunt for a space mission – maybe he’ll convince Blue Origin to do it.