Lone asteroid expelled from early Solar System

Carbonaceous Asteroid Found Exiled At The Far End Of Our Solar System

Lonely 'exiled weirdo asteroid' found on the edge of our solar system

While there's plenty of asteroids on the edge of our solar system - there is an entire Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, after all - they're distinctly different in their composition from anything in the main asteroid belt. Specifically, these models propose that the Kuiper Belt ought to contain a little part of rough bodies from the internal Solar System, for example, asteroids which are rich in carbon, which is also called carbonaceous asteroids.

A "weirdo" asteroid spotted 4 billion kilometres from Earth has thrown new light on the earliest days of our solar system.

With all this information, the research team concluded that 2004 EW95 probably formed between Mars and Jupiter, and was dragged along as the gas giants moved to their current orbits, thus offering important information about the dynamics of the early solar system.

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.

Measurements taken using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope allowed the team to determine it was formed from carbon, suggesting it originated in the inner solar system.

The asteroid named 2004 EW95 has been somehow spewed out in the icy region of the Kuiper Belt which is very unlikely.

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"The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer Solar System objects", said lead researcher, Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast, in a news release.

The asteroid is nearly 200 miles wide and is about 2.5 billion miles from Earth, making it tricky to examine. "It's like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky,"co-author Thomas Puzia, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, said in the statement".

"While there have been previous reports of other "atypical" Kuiper Belt Object spectra, none were confirmed to this level of quality", said ESO astronomer Olivier Hainaut.

It's believed that our solar system's gas giants caused quite a ruckus in their infancies. Since objects high in carbon aren't common out in the Kuiper Belt - an icy region past Neptune - verifying their distant existence could further support the current formation theory. "We had to use a pretty advanced data processing technique to get as much out of the data as possible".

Further analysis of the asteroid revealed that it is a carbonaceous asteroid (C-type asteroid). However, even with the sensitivity of VLT instruments, it was a big challenge to collect data from a dark, carbon rich object.

The 300km-long asteroid was discovered by astronomer Dr Wesley Fraser, of Queen's University Belfast, in Northern Ireland. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".

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