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Neptune trojans with plutinos for reference.

As of May 2008, there are six known Neptune trojans (named by analogy to the Trojan asteroids) which have the same orbital period as Neptune.[1] They lie in the elongated, curved region around the L4 Lagrangian point 60° ahead of Neptune.[2] These are 2001 QR322, 2004 UP10, 2005 TN53, 2005 TO74, 2006 RJ103 and 2007 VL305.[1]

This animation shows the path of the 6 Neptune Trojans in a rotating frame with a period equal to Neptune's orbital period. (Neptune is held stationary.)
TNOs and similar bodies

*Trans-Neptunian dwarf planets are "plutoids"

The discovery of 2005 TN53 in a high inclination (>25°) orbit is significant as it suggests a 'thick' cloud of trojans.[2] It is believed that large (radius ≈ 100 km) Neptune trojans could outnumber Jupiter trojans by an order of magnitude.[3][4]

If any trailing (L5) Neptune trojans are discovered in the near future, it may be possible for the New Horizons spacecraft to investigate them as it passes through the region in 2014 en route to Pluto.

When 2005 TN74[5] and 2007 RW10 were first discovered they were believed to be Neptune trojans.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "List Of Neptune Trojans". Minor Planet Center. http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/NeptuneTrojans.html. Retrieved 2008-05-08.  
  2. ^ a b Sheppard, Scott S.; Trujillo, Chadwick A. (June 2006). "A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors" (PDF). Science 313 (5786): 511–514. doi:10.1126/science.1127173. PMID 16778021. http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/users/sheppard/pub/Sheppard06NepTroj.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-26.  
  3. ^ E. I. Chiang and Y. Lithwick Neptune Trojans as a Testbed for Planet Formation, The Astrophysical Journal, 628, pp. 520–532 Preprint
  4. ^ "Neptune May Have Thousands of Escorts". Space.com. 30 January 2007. http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070130_st_neptune_trojans.html. Retrieved 2007-03-08.  
  5. ^ 2005 TN74, listed earlier as a Neptune trojan, is likely to be a Trans-Neptunian object (TNO) in a 3:5 resonance with Neptune.
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Simple English

A Neptune Trojan is an object, for example a moon or asteroid, which is in the same orbit as the planet Neptune. Their name comes from the Trojan asteroids which have the same orbital period as a planet. As of March 2007, there are six[1][2] known Neptune Trojans. They lie in the elongated, curved region around the L4 Lagrangian point 60° ahead of Neptune. The six Neptune Trojans are 2001 QR322, 2004 UP10, 2005 TN53, 2005 TO74, 2006 RJ103 and 2007 RW10.

The discovery of 2005 TN53 in a high inclination (>25°) orbit is significant because it suggests a ‘thick’ cloud of Trojans.[3] It is believed that large (radius ≈ 100 km) Neptune Trojans could greatly outnumber the Jupiter Trojans.[4][5]

If any other L5 Neptune Trojans are discovered in the near future, it may be possible for the New Horizons spacecraft to investigate them as it passes through the region in 2014 while on its way to Pluto.

References

  1. 2005 TN74, listed earlier as a Neptune Trojan, proved to be a scattered disk object.
  2. List Of Neptune Trojans (March 8, 2007) at cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/.
  3. S. Sheppard and C. Trujillo "A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors" (2006) Science 313, pp. 511-514
  4. E. I. Chiang and Y. Lithwick Neptune Trojans as a Testbed for Planet Formation, The Astrophysical Journal, 628, pp. 520–532 Preprint
  5. space.com popular article (Jan 2007)


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