NASA and other space agencies constantly monitor all near-Earth asteroids for potential threats to our planet. However, these asteroids are more than just dangerous space objects! Now, a team of astronomers has discovered a new type of asteroid that could provide insight into the composition of the early solar system. Even more interesting is the fact that these rocky bodies, located in the outer asteroid belt, are porous and rich in water, having undergone significant evolution from their original location.
NASA Astromaterials tweeted, “How scientists can understand the origin and evolution of massive/dark matter Asteroid I am considered rich Water and carbon, essential elements for Life On Earth?” This study is published in the journal Nature Astronomy by Takir et al. (2023), who provide insight using near-infrared observations and comparisons with Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System. Known for its abundance of water.
With the help of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, the space agency has found evidence of an asteroid moving from the cold region in the central belt. According to the research, these large and dark asteroids, which are more than 100 km in diameter, show exactly the same mineral composition as the icy dwarf planet Ceres. With an equatorial diameter of about 900 km, Ceres holds the distinction of being the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Scientists believe that this asteroid could have delivered water to the developing planets, especially Earth, when the solar system and its components were generally dry. A recently discovered group of asteroids like Ceres, which are rich in water and carbon, contain the same key ingredients needed for life on Earth.