Two ‘very red’ rocks in the asteroid belt could come from beyond Neptune

Two huge red rocks containing ‘complex organic matter’ have been discovered in the asteroid belt that shouldn’t be there

  • 203 Pompeja is about 70 miles in diameter, while 269 Justitia is 35 miles in diameter.
  • Both asteroids were discovered by astronomers in the 19th century
  • Experts have now found they are redder than any other body in the asteroid belt
  • This suggests that they formed beyond Neptune before ending up in the belt, which lies between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.

Scientists have discovered two giant rocks in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars that shouldn’t be there.

The asteroids, called 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, resemble trans-Neptunian objects – those that lie beyond the eighth planet in our solar system.

Both have “complex organic matter” on their surface and are redder than any other object in the asteroid belt.

It is possible that they formed near Neptune at the start of the life of the solar system before being transplanted into the asteroid belt during a violent phase of “planetary migration”, reveal the experts.

The two asteroids – 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia – could have formed close to Neptune and been transplanted into the main belt region during a violent “planetary migration” phase.

THE ASTEROID BELT

The asteroid belt is a region of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where most of the asteroids in our solar system orbiting the Sun are found.

Astronomers believe the asteroid belt is made up of material that could never form a planet, or the remnants of a planet that disintegrated a very long time ago.

The asteroids in the asteroid belt come in different sizes.

Some are very small (less than a mile in diameter), while others are quite large.

The largest asteroid is called Ceres. It is about a quarter the size of our moon.

Source: Caltech

“This discovery therefore provides new evidence that planetesimals formed on the outskirts of the solar system moved to the asteroid belt inside Jupiter’s orbit,” says JAXA, the Japanese space agency, in a statement. communicated.

203 Pompeja measures about 70 miles (110 km) in diameter, while 269 Justitia measures 35 miles (55 km), according to JAXA.

203 Pompeja is the only “very red” asteroid known so far among the roughly 250 bodies with a diameter greater than 70 miles found in the asteroid belt, experts report.

Both were discovered in the 19th century, but their color was detected by visible and near-infrared spectroscopic observations from the Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii and the Seoul National University Astronomical Observatory. (SAO) in Korea.

Generally, objects in the inner solar system tend to reflect more blue light because they don’t contain complex organic compounds like carbon and methane.

Objects in the outer solar system – after Neptune – are redder because they contain many of these compounds, which are red in the wavelengths of visible and near infrared light.

Thus, the fact that both are redder than any other “D-type” bodies (which have until now been considered the reddest objects in the asteroid belt) suggests that they come from the outer solar system.

The figure showing the evolution of the solar system shows how the two asteroids

The figure showing the evolution of the solar system shows how the two “very red” asteroids ended up in the asteroid belt (often called the “main” belt). D-type bodies are generally “reddish” and have until now been considered the reddest objects in the asteroid belt

“To have these organics, you first need to have a lot of ice on the surface,” said study author Michaël Marsset of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). New York Times.

“So they had to train in a very cold environment. Then, the solar irradiation of the ice creates these complex organic compounds.

If the asteroids were too close to the Sun, the temperatures wouldn’t allow these ices to exist, Marsset said.

Additionally, the characteristics of 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia support a theory known as the Nice model.

The theory – developed in the French town of the same name – is that when the giant planets first formed they were closer to the Sun than they are today.

Artist's impression of the asteroid belt - the region of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where most of the asteroids in our solar system orbiting the Sun are found

Artist’s impression of the asteroid belt – the region of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where most of the asteroids in our solar system orbiting the Sun are found

NASA explains, “The planets interacted with each other and with surrounding smaller bodies and eventually experienced instability, in which Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn moved outward and Jupiter moved inward.”

This would theoretically have brought the two ultra-red asteroids from beyond Neptune into the asteroid belt over several million years.

The Nice model also supports the idea that there was an additional Neptune-like planet that was ejected from the solar system, commonly referred to as Planet Nine.

The new research was led by Sunao Hasegawa of JAXA and published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Explained: The Difference Between An Asteroid, Meteorite, And Other Space Rocks

A asteroid is a large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.

A comet is a rock covered with ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much farther from the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns.

These debris themselves are known as meteoroid. Most are so small that they vaporize into the atmosphere.

If one of these meteoroids arrives on Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally come from asteroids and comets.

For example, if the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

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