Space & Astronomy
'Complex organic matter' found on asteroids
By T.K. Randall
August 3, 2021 · 2 comments
There is more to the asteroid belt than meets the eye. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have identified two unusual asteroids between Mars and Jupiter that shouldn't actually be there.
Discovered by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the two space rocks are known as 203 Pompeja (110km wide) and 269 Justitia (55km wide).
These particular objects stood out because they reflect more red light than their neighbors due to increased levels of complex organic materials such as carbon and methane.
Objects such as these shouldn't actually be in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at all and are instead a lot more common among trans-Neptunian objects in the outer solar system.
Scientists now believe that their presence in the asteroid belt is testament to the chaos that ensued during the earliest days of the solar system and that they were likely knocked into a different orbit by the movements and gravitational forces of the larger planets during that time.
"In order to have these organics, you need to initially have a lot of ice at the surface," said researcher Michael Marsset. "So they must have formed in a very cold environment."
"Then the solar irradiation of the ice creates those complex organics."
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