Astronomers have discovered two unusual red objects in the asteroid belt

Technical interpretation of the asteroid belt.

Technical interpretation of the asteroid belt.
photo: Nasa

It’s red, it’s big enough, and it’s okay in the main asteroid belt, but their discovery confirms the complex conditions that prevailed when the solar system was still forming.

New Research Published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, details the discovery of two extremely red asteroids in the main belt. Named 203 Bombega and 269 Justitia, the asteroids have more red spectral signatures than any other asteroid in the Main Belt, the densely populated group of asteroids located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The new newspaper was run by him Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)JAXA) L’astronome Sunao Hasegawa.

It is important to note that these red asteroids are similar to the trans-Neptune objects, that is, the F-shaped objects.Farther than Neptune, the farthest planet from the Sun (with no respect for the dwarf planet Pluto). This could mean that 203 Bombeja and 269 Justitia were trained there in the Kuiper Belt. Then drift inside When the solar system was still young. If confirmed, the new result shows how chaotic conditions were back then and that materials from different parts of the solar system can sometimes mix.

The aim of the study was to document the distribution and composition of large asteroids in the main belt. Large asteroids, especially those over 100 kilometers wide, have likely survived from the early days of the solar system. By studying these things, scientists hoped to see what conditions looked like around 4 billion years ago.

To do this, astronomers performed visible and near infrared spectroscopic observations of the main belt using the Telescope Facility (IRTF) and the Seoul National University (SAO) Astronomical Observatory. The international collaboration involved scientists from MIT, University of HawaiiI, Seoul National University, Kyoto University and many other institutions.

Asteroid 203 Bombaja is 68 miles (110 km) in diameter while Justetia 269 is only half of it. Both have an unusual red spectrum, which means they reflect a lot of red light. It is even redder than D-type asteroids, which were previously considered the reddest objects in the asteroid belt.

The outer solar system is filled with material left over from the formation of the solar system, including minor planets (asteroids) and centaurs (the icy planets between Jupiter and Neptune). These distant objects are very red and contain complex organic compounds such as methane and methanolic ice. Seen through a spectrometer, these compounds give the asteroid its reddish appearance. In contrast, objects in the inner solar system have negligible traces of organic matter, so they tend to reflect blue light.

Asteroids 203 Bombega and 269 Justetia “would have formed near the outer edge of the solar system beyond the distant organic snow line, then moved into the asteroid belt when the solar system began to form,” notes JAXA. Press release. With the “organic snow line”, scientists indicate the location in the solar system where methanol and methane turn into ice.

This finding indicates that some Main Belt asteroids formed in the Outer Solar System and it is possible that a cluster of such objects exists in the Main Belt. A good next step would be to determine the exact proportion of the population of this red asteroid. In addition, the new study shows that the main belt is a good destination for a future mission. Instead of traveling to the outer edge of the solar system to get samples of Kuiper Belt objects, all we have to do is send a probe into the asteroid belt, where it can study at both internal asteroids and objects that formed far away. .

Suite: Comet 67P frequently changed color during the historic Rosetta mission.

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