Despite its size - 2004 EW95 is roughly 300 kilometres across - its discovery is quite a find because not only did the team have to search through an untold number of objects to locate it, but as c-types contain a large amount of carbon, they have a very low albedo, meaning they do not reflect much light.
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.
After being ejected from their places of origin they ended up in the outer solar system. This was the first time those compounds had been seen on Kuiper belt objects, reports The Times.
A 300-kilometer-long asteroid, which is rich in carbon and moves in the distant Kaper at the edge of our solar system, about four billion kilometers from Earth, has discovered an global team of astronomers.
Their finding suggests that 2004 EW95 is the first of a new class of space objects floating around the solar system in an area known as the Kuiper belt, which is still full of mysteries.
Data from the ESO helped the scientists decide it was formed from carbon - pointing to the inner solar system as its origin point. After painstaking measurements from multiple instruments at ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), a small team of astronomers led by Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom was able to measure the composition of the anomalous Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95, and thus determine that it is a carbonaceous asteroid.
Two features of the object's spectra were particularly eye-catching and corresponded to the presence of ferric oxides and phyllosilicates.
This research was presented in a paper entitled "2004 EW95: A Phyllosilicate-bearing Carbonaceous Asteroid in the Kuiper Belt" by T. Seccull et al., which appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Scientists believe it to be evidence of how our solar system behaved in its early time.
For his part, the ESO astronomer Olivier Hainaut, stressed that "the discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper belt is a key verification for one of the fundamental predictions of the dynamic models of the early Solar System". Further analysis revealed that the object did not share the same icy past as other rocks drifting nearby. Some recent notions indicate they were thrown by renegade gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn through the first days of the solar system's creation. However, even with the sensitivity of VLT instruments, it was a big challenge to collect data from a dark, carbon rich object.
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