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VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Sep 04 (MARKET WIRE) --
Astronomers have spotted a surprising asteroid, whose unusual orbit may
help explain where comets come from. The asteroid, currently named 2008
KV42, is orbiting the Sun backwards and almost perpendicular to the
orbits of the planets - a 104 degree tilt. This odd orbit suggests that
2008 KV42 may have been pulled into our solar system from the Oort Cloud.
Comets can originate in the Oort Cloud and this discovery may finally
show how they transition from the Oort Cloud to become objects like
The orbits of asteroids in the region beyond Neptune's orbit provide
important clues as to how the outer Solar System took form and evolved.
Discoveries of new classes of objects have led to fresh insights into the
early history of our solar system, challenging accepted theories. The
discovery of 2008 KV42, the first-ever object in this region to be
detected with a backwards (retrograde) orbit, promises to do just that.
"Although we've been specifically looking for highly-tilted
trans-Neptunians for some time now, we didn't expect to find a retrograde
one," said Dr. JJ Kavelaars of the National Research Council of Canada.
"A number of theories on the formation of the outer solar system have
suggested that such things might be out there, but observational searches
for them are very difficult."