Two Interloper Main Belt Asteroids Look Like they Formed Past Neptune and Sneaked in

A study of the color of asteroids orbiting Mars and Jupiter (known as the asteroid belt) has captured two interlopers on red-surface, indicating that they formed outside Neptune and somehow entered their current orbit.

The discovery could provide important insights into the evolution of the solar system. It also provides an opportunity to study an object whose origin is far away from the sun, especially without a terrifying journey. Asteroids come into class based on composition and origin, and at least some of it is reflected in their color. D-type asteroids are the reddest in the inner solar system, but we know that many trans-Neptune objects (TNOs) are still radar. A multinational team conducted a color survey of D-type asteroids with a radius greater than 110 kilometers (66 miles) to see which one was standing.

In the astrophysical journal Letter, they report on the asteroid 203 Pompeja, which is just divided into size sizes, has a “much higher radar spectral operation” than other objects in their sample (measuring relative brightness at different wavelengths of light). The authors then searched for smaller asteroids with the same spectral opera and fitted the 54-kilometer-wide 269 Justitia Bill. There are many objects in the original asteroid belt that the authors probably could not observe. As a result, it most likely contains very small portions for appropriate measurements of Pompeii and Justitia.

The two big questions from this work are why this pair is so red, and how they got into the asteroid belt, assuming they didn’t form there. The authors concluded in red that “the presence of a mixture of complex biological and other unknown … elements.” Both maintain water ice very close to the sun, in contrast to similarly colored TNOs or even centaurs, which orbit between Jupiter and Neptune.

“To get these organic ingredients, you first need to have plenty of ice on the surface,” MIT author Dr. Michaël Marsset told the New York Times. “So they must have formed in a very cool environment. Then the solar radiation from the ice creates that complex organic. Comets are sometimes redirected from their orbits through close gravitational battles with the planets to end up in the inner solar system, but usually have much more disguised orbits than this pair.