24/7 Space News
New study reveals potential "ice bombs" among Kuiper Belt Objects
illustration only
New study reveals potential "ice bombs" among Kuiper Belt Objects
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 28, 2024

A groundbreaking study by Brown University and the SETI Institute has unveiled unexpected characteristics of distant solar system objects, specifically highlighting a phenomenon involving so-called "space snowmen," like Kuiper Belt Object 486958 Arrokoth. This research suggests that these objects may house ancient, volatile ices, challenging previous scientific assumptions about their thermal evolution and potentially explaining the violent transformation of some into comets when nearing the sun.

The focus of the study is on the durability of primitive ices within Kuiper Belt objects-cold remnants from the solar system's inception approximately 4.6 billion years ago. A new mathematical model proposed by the researchers demonstrates how these ices can remain preserved deep within such objects for billions of years, contradicting the prevailing belief that these ices would have dissipated over time.

"Our simple mathematical model has shown that it's possible for these primitive ices to be locked within these objects for exceedingly long periods," stated Sam Birch, a planetary scientist at Brown University and one of the study's co-authors.

The research, published in the journal Icarus by Birch and Orkan Umurhan of the SETI Institute, addresses a significant gap in understanding the thermal evolution of Kuiper Belt objects. Traditional models failed to account for the longevity of temperature-sensitive ices like carbon monoxide. The new model suggests these volatile ices could survive much longer than previously thought, remaining dormant until an orbital shift brings the objects closer to the sun, whereupon they become active, or "ice bombs," violently releasing gas.

This hypothesis introduces a novel perspective on the transition of Kuiper Belt objects to comets, driven by internal pressure build-ups from trapped gases. "We've essentially found that Arrokoth's cold environment slows the sublimation process, creating a domino effect that preserves its icy interior," explained Birch.

The implications of this study extend beyond academic interest, informing mission strategies for NASA's Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR) mission, which aims to collect and return cometary material from 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to Earth. Insights from this research could refine CAESAR's approach to collecting and analyzing cometary substances, potentially unveiling vast reservoirs of primordial material across the outer solar system.

"These findings not only challenge our current understanding of cometary evolution but also hint at the untapped reservoirs of ancient materials lying dormant in the outer solar system, awaiting exploration," Birch concluded.

Research Report:Retention of CO ice and gas within 486958 Arrokoth

Related Links
Brown University
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Unlocking the Secrets of Eternal Ice in the Kuiper Belt
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 15, 2024
Innovative research published in Icarus unveils the enduring nature of volatile substances such as carbon monoxide (CO) within Kuiper Belt Object 486958 Arrokoth, offering new insights into the long-term preservation of volatile ices in the distant reaches of our solar system. Co-authored by Dr. Samuel Birch of Brown University and Dr. Orkan Umurhan, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute, the study "Retention of CO Ice and Gas Within 486958 Arrokoth" presents Arrokoth as a critical exa ... read more

NanoAvionics Partners with Neuraspace for Advanced Space Traffic Management Solutions

Russia's Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft docks to ISS

Advanced Space Revolutionizes Moon Navigation with AI-Powered CAPSTONE Experiment

Xi tells Dutch PM Rutte 'no force can stop' China tech progress

TEXUS rockets propel scientific research with recent successful launches

SpaceX launches 23 satellites, completing 260th reflight of an orbital class rocket

Starship's Third Launch: A Glimpse into the future of reusable launch vehicles

Finishing touches for South Australia's first permanent spaceport ahead of Inaugural Launch

Fascinated by Fascination Turret: Sols 4137-4138

Bipartisan Congressional call to ensure Mars Sample Return a success

Perseverance Pays off When Studying the Martian Atmosphere

Mars Express achieves 25,000 orbits

Shenzhou 17 astronauts complete China's first in-space repair job

Tiangong Space Station's Solar Wings Restored After Spacewalk Repair by Shenzhou XVII Team

BIT advances microbiological research on Chinese Space Station

Chang'e 6 and new rockets highlight China's packed 2024 space agenda

AST SpaceMobile advances space-based cellular network with ASIC chip development

Dedicated Satellite Set to Broaden Internet Access in Argentina

Intelsat bolsters global connectivity through enhanced Eutelsat Group Partnership

Four veteran space industry leaders join Astrobotic as company turn to Griffin-1 project

Lockheed Martin to develop advanced radar training system for USAF

Kayhan Space revolutionizes university space programs with Pathfinder Classroom

Uncovering nature's blueprint for invisibility and enhanced solar harvesting

UC San Diego Scientists Unveil Plant-Based Polymers that Biodegrade Microplastics in Months

ESA targets Enceladus in ambitious mission to Saturn

Webb opens new chapter in search for forming planets

Unveiling hydrogen's role in life's early energy mechanisms

Life Detection on Ice Moons Could Be Within Reach, New Study Shows

New study reveals potential "ice bombs" among Kuiper Belt Objects

Unlocking the Secrets of Eternal Ice in the Kuiper Belt

Hubble's Latest Gaze Reveals Jupiter's Dynamic Weather Patterns

NASA Armstrong Updates 1960s Concept to Study Giant Planets

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.