Researchers said that the asteroid's characteristics are consistent with the idea that it may have formed near Jupiter along with other carbonaceous asteroids, and that it was thrown into the Kuiper Belt by migrating planets. The scientists guess that the asteroid was shot out from the inner solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. As a outcome, a small percentage of rocky asteroids are expected to have been ejected into orbits in the Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt.
Smaller, carbon-rich objects that typically would have populated large swarths of space closer to the Sun, were consequently booted out and flung billions of kilometres beyond the orbit of Neptune, some 30 plus astronomical units (AU) away.
An artist impression of 2004 EW95.
While performing routine observations using the Hubble Space Telescope, Queen's University Belfast astronomer Dr Wesley Fraser noticed something unusual about one of the distant asteroids he was monitoring. The newly discovered space rock, which they named 2004 EW95, was something the scientists would have expected to have seen in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
In the Kuiper Belt, you can find dwarf planets like Pluto, and lots of icy rocks because of how distant they are from the sun, but you're not likely to find any carbon-filled asteroids in them.
"Not only is 2004 EW95 moving, it's also very faint", adds lead author Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast.
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"It's like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky", said Thomas Puzia, an astronomer at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and co-author of the research paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letter.
Two features of the object's spectra were particularly eye-catching and corresponded to the presence of ferric oxides and phyllosilicates.
The Kuiper Belt is home to hundreds of millions of objects but lurking within astronomers have spotted a relic of the inner primordial Solar System - the first of its kind to be confirmed so far away from the Sun.
Olivier Hainaut concludes, "The discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt is a key verification of one of the fundamental predictions of dynamical models of the early Solar System."Olivier Hainaut is an ESO astronomer". The Kuiper Belt starts past the orbit of Neptune, roughly 30 astronomical units from sunlight, roughly 30 times the distance between sunlight and Earth, and might stretch nearly as far too interstellar space. Further analysis revealed that the object did not share the same icy past as other rocks drifting nearby. But they started their outwards migration not long after the solar system was formed, and as they did so, they created all sorts of chaos.
In part this is due to the difficulties to detect dark bodies at great distances, but this stumbling block was found thanks to "careful measurements with multiple instruments installed on the ESO's VLT telescope".