Called 3552 Don Quixote, the body is the third largest near-Earth object-mostly rocky bodies, or asteroids, that orbit the Sun in the vicinity of Earth. About 5 percent of near-Earth objects are thought to be "dead" comets that have shed all the water and carbon dioxide in the form of ice that give them their coma - a cloud surrounding the comet nucleus - and tail.
The discovery could hold implications for the origin of water on Earth.
He said that such a vast orbit is similar to a comet's, not an asteroid's, which tend to be more circular - so people thought it was one that had shed all its ice deposits.
Using the Spitzer Space Telescope operated by the
Emery also reexamined images from 2004, when it was at its farthest distance from the Sun, and determined that the surface is composed of silicate dust, which is similar to comet dust.
He also determined that
This discovery may have implications for the origins of water on Earth as comets may be the source of at least some of it, and the amount on
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