Scientists' Discovery: Arrokoth Asteroid Retains Volatile Substances for Billions of Years

Researchers from the USA discovered that the Arrokoth asteroid has the ability to long retain carbon monoxide, thus revising the theory about space

Kuiper Belt, artist's illustration
Kuiper Belt, artist's illustration / NASA Hubble Space Telescope, CC BY 2.0 DEED

During the New Horizons space mission, American scientists discovered that asteroid 486958 Arrokoth, located beyond Uranus's orbit in the Kuiper Belt, is capable of retaining volatile substances, including carbon monoxide.

The study, published in the journal Icarus, was conducted by Samuel Birch from Brown University and Orkan Umurhan from the SETI Institute.

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They suggested that many Kuiper Belt objects, which are witnesses to the early history of the Solar System, might preserve their primordial volatile ices.

This discovery challenges previous notions about the development of these celestial bodies.

Previously, scientists mistakenly believed that volatile substances were quickly lost in space, but new data show that they can be preserved for billions of years, forming underground "atmospheres".

This changes a long-standing misconception in models predicting the behavior of volatiles on ancient cold objects and opens up a new understanding of the internal evolution and activity of comets.

The study emphasizes that this discovery could alter our perception of comets, which, when approaching the Sun, can release ice, acting as "ice bombs".

These findings are also important for future research, including the CAESAR project aimed at studying the evolution and activity of comets.

It was previously reported that the James Webb Space Telescope transmitted impressive images of star formation in the NGC 604 area, located in the Triangulum galaxy, allowing scientists to peer into the hidden corners of space and unveil its secrets.

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