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Astronomy: Have you found two trans-Neptune objects between Mars and Jupiter?

Asteroids (203) Bombeja and (269) Justetia orbit the sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but there are now indications that they originally came from the edge of the solar system. At least that’s the conclusion of a research group led by Sunao Hasegawa of the Japanese space agency JAXA, which analyzed the color of the objects. Both are therefore much redder than all other large celestial bodies in the region and are more similar to trans-Neptune objects such as Arrokoth, which NASA’s New Horizons probe passed through in 2019. If this suspicion is confirmed, asteroids will be particularly exciting targets for research investigations. , which require much less flight time to reach compared to the Kuiper belt.

The two asteroids orbit the sun at distances of 2 to 3 astronomical units, that is, they are located in the middle of the so-called asteroid belt. It includes hundreds of thousands of bodies made of rock and ice, depending on where in the solar system they form – rocks inside, ice chunks outside. However, it is clear that (203) Bombega and (269) Justitia now clearly fall out of this pattern, with dramatic consequences. If they were in fact celestial bodies that formed far away in the Solar System, then their current orbit cannot only shed light on the turbulent time when the Solar System formed. They could also make it possible to explore the edge of the solar system in a more time-saving way.

To rate the importance of your discovery The team explains Now among others the concept of the so-called ice lines in the solar system. These are the limits beyond which water, carbon dioxide and so-called organic compounds cannot eventually evaporate and form lumps or huge bodies. Only beyond the line of the three furthest from the sun can hydrocarbons such as methanol and methane freeze and become bound. This also includes the connections that are the building blocks of life. How they got to Earth, however, is still part of the research and the fate of (203) Bombega and (269) Justitia can now provide a clue.

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right Now Spectroscopic investigations are presented in The Astronomical Journal Letters Indicates the presence of complex hydrocarbons or organic (non-biological) compounds on the surface of the two asteroids. However, the data has not yet been confirmed. This can only be followed up by further analyzes or, ideally, by one or more on-site investigations. They will only travel a fraction of the time to the asteroid belt they need to in the Kuiper Belt, where trans-Neptune objects orbit the sun. NASA’s New Horizons probe, which began more than 15 years ago and took ten years to travel to the region, is currently underway there.


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