(ETH) – New research published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters details the discovery of two extremely red main-belt asteroids according to GIZMODO. Named 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, the asteroids have a redder spectral signature than any other asteroid in the main belt, that highly populated band of asteroids situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The new paper was led by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronomer Sunao Hasegawa.
Importantly, these red asteroids resemble trans-Neptunian objects, that is, objects located farther away than Neptune, the most distant planet from the Sun (with no disrespect to dwarf planet Pluto).
This could mean that 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia formed way out there in the Kuiper Belt and then drifted inward when the solar system was still young. If confirmed, the new finding shows how chaotic the conditions were back then and that materials from different parts of the solar system would sometimes mix together.
According to the Telegraph, Asteroids like this are not usually found within the belt, which is generally made up of bluer debris, but they are common among trans-Neptunian objects and Centaurs (small bodies that orbit between Jupiter and Neptune) – which is where astronomers believe that they originated.
Jaxa believes that the movements of these asteroids came from the anarchy of the early solar system, where the movement of massive plants like Jupiter caused the gravitational fields to become more chaotic and sent these two bodies into the belt.
This occurrence must have happened during the early stages of our cosmic environment because they both have stable circular orbits. “In order to have these organics, you need to initially have a lot of ice at the surface,” Michaël Marsset, who worked on the recently published paper about these asteroids, told the New York Times. “So they must have formed in a very cold environment. Then the solar irradiation of the ice creates those complex organics.”