Earth’s second Trojan asteroid announced

A team of astronomers has determined that the space object seen in December 2020 is the Earth’s Trojan asteroid. It is called the 2020 XL5.

The asteroid was classified as transitory: it stayed at the Lagrange point for four thousand years and arrived there about six hundred years ago. 2020 XL5 is more than a kilometer in diameter, larger than the first Trojan asteroid, which has a diameter of three hundred meters. The results of the study will be published in the journal Nature Communications.

Other planets have long been known as Trojan asteroids. But the first “terrestrial” was discovered only in 2011. Several attempts have been made to locate the following, namely the L4 and L5 region using spacecraft, but without success. Scientists say that there is very little time for observation between the asteroid rising above the horizon and sunrise, and at the point of observation the conditions of the view is very bad.

To solve the problem, scientists have discovered two four-meter-long telescopes that can observe such phenomena. And with their help it can be considered an asteroid. The orbit was studied using data collected from 2012 to 2019.

The discovery of “Earth Trojans” is important because they can store information about the beginnings of the formation of the solar system. They are also candidates for future space missions and potential resource sources.

Everything in the sky that moves through the solar system experiences the influence of all the large bodies that compose it. If we consider the Earth-Sun system, Newton’s laws of gravity state that there are five points where all forces on an object in this area are equal. These boundaries are called Lagrange points, which are very stable boundaries.

Terrestrial Trojan asteroids are small bodies that orbit the L4 or L5 Lagrange points of the Sun-Earth system. In 1906, the asteroid Achilles was discovered, and since then it has been customary to name such objects after the heroes of the Trojan War.


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