A recently discovered object sharing the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun may actually be a Trojan asteroid, astronomers have found.
If confirmed, this would be only the second objective of the identification so far of its type, suggesting that there may be more of these asteroids hidden in Earth’s gravitational pocket.
Trojan asteroids are rocks of space that share the orbital path of large planetary bodies in the solar system, known as hangarrange points in areas that are stationary by gravity.
These are the pockets where the gravitational pull of the Sun of the planet draws and the Sun balances perfectly with the centripetal force of any small object in that region.
Each two-body system has five lagrange points, as seen in the diagram below. There are five between the Earth and the Moon; And another five between the earth and the sun
These are quite useful, in fact – we can place spaceships in them and be reasonably confident that they will put up. The James Webb Space Telescope, for example, is going to Earth-Sun L.2 diligence.
Lagranigen, however, can also occupy space rocks, and is well known in the incident solar system.
Jupiter has the most Trojans, with more than 9,000 documents, but other planets are not leaving without. Neptune has 28, Mars has 9 and Uranus and Earth both have an affirmative.
Earth Confirmed Trojan, named 2010 Vaccines., Is a part of a rock of about 300 meters (984 ft), which hangs about the Earth’s principal L.4 Labeling in a shaker-shaped orbit is known as libration.
New item, named 2020 XL5, Which was first observed in November and December of last year, sounds similar.
According to amateur astronomer Tony Dunn, who calculated the trajectory of the object using NASA’s JPL-Horizons software, it also librates around the Earth-Sun L.4 Lagrangian, looping close to the orbit of Mars, and crossing the orbit of Venus.
In the gif below, the asteroid’s orbit is teal, with Earth in blue and Mars in orange. Both Venus and Mercury are white.
Earth has a known Trojan asteroid, 2010 TK7. But the recently discovered 2020 XL5 is a good candidate because it lives around the Earth’s L4 point, and will continue to do so for thousands of years. pic.twitter.com/mXUyFIIOSw
– Tony Dunn (@ tony873004) January 28, 2021
Because it comes closer to Venus, if 2020 XL5 Trojan is, it cannot be stable over a long period of time. According to a simulation run by Dunn, for a few thousand years, the asteroid will pass above and below the orbital plane of Venus, preventing it from disrupting its orbit when it orbits.
Ultimately, however, the gravitational interactions should move it away from L.4 Point. This is supported by simulations run by amateur astronomer Aldo Vitagliano, creator of Solex and Exorb Orbital Determination software.
“I can confirm that the 2020 XL5 Currently there is a moderately stable Earth Trojan (I mean stable on a time scale of 2–4 millennia), ”he wrote on the mailing list of miniature planets.
“I downloaded the nominal elements and their covalent matrix from the Neodis site, generating 200 clones of the body. All 200 clones, unified until 4500 AD, though extending in an orbital arc of more than 120 degrees, are called the librate. Keep on doing. Around L.4 Point. The first clone jumps around L45 at the L3 point, and by the year 6000 many of them have jumped and some of them are moving around L5 Point.”
The 2010 TK7 is not necessarily stable in its current state. A 2012 analysis found that it became a Trojan only 1,800 years ago, and would likely move away from L.4 In about 15,000 years, in a horseshoe-shaped class, or in L.5.
Although only one more data point, 2020 XL5 Can help us figure out how to search for other possible soldiers of the Earth. We’ve done so – both OSIRIS-REX and the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft scanned L.4 And me5 In 2017, nothing was found, respectively, paving the way for their respective goals. Searches from Earth have been almost as fruitful.
This is not necessarily surprising. Any object inhabiting Lagranism would be moving too much, leaving a very large patch of sky to search for relatively small objects. Also from the Earth, it is challenging to locate the placement in relation to the Sun.
Scientists have rejected a stable population of primordial Trojans hidden from the beginning of the solar system.
Nevertheless, with current observation limitations, scientists have speculated that we may be able to detect hundreds of Earth Trojans comparable in size to the 2010 vaccine... To get a better idea of how they move around the Legranese can help us narrow down where to look in the sky.
What we get – is it a whole bunch of Trojans, or nothing – is bound to tell more about the dynamics of our solar system.
H / T: Sky and Telescope