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ESO/M. Kornmesser

First carbon-rich asteroid found beyond Neptune

Four billion kilometers from Earth in a region of the outer solar system near Neptune floats a nearly 305-kilometer-long asteroid that looks not like its fellow Kuiper belt objects, but, rather, like those in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. That’s because the space anomaly, 2004 EW95, is rich with carbon, a first for any object so distant, researchers report in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. They could hardly believe their results when they learned liquid water had likely altered the asteroid, meaning the rock probably came from an area closer to the sun, The New York Times reports. The find may give scientists clues about how planets formed early on, researchers say.

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