1868 Thersites

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1868 Thersites
Discovery [1]
Discovered by C. J. van Houten
I. van Houten G.
T. Gehrels
Discovery site Palomar Obs.
Discovery date 24 September 1960
MPC designation (1868) Thersites
Pronunciation /θərˈstz/ thər-SYE-teez
Named after
Thersites (Greek mythology)[2]
2008 P-L · 1972 RB2
Jupiter trojan[3][4]
(Greek camp)[5]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 63.10 yr (23,049 days)
Aphelion 5.9013 AU
Perihelion 4.7344 AU
5.3178 AU
Eccentricity 0.1097
12.26 yr (4,479 days)
0° 4m 49.44s / day
Inclination 16.752°
Jupiter MOID 0.2085 AU
TJupiter 2.9030
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 66.92 km (calculated)[3]
68.163±0.809 km[6][7]
78.89±2.02 km[8]
10.416±0.014 h[9]
0.057 (assumed)[3]
9.30[8] · 9.6[1][3][6]

1868 Thersites (/θərˈstz/ thər-SYE-teez), provisional designation 2008 P-L, is a carbonaceous Jupiter trojan from the Greek camp, approximately 70 kilometers in diameter. Discovered during the Palomar–Leiden survey at Palomar in 1960, it was later named after Thersites from Greek mythology.


Thersites was discovered by Dutch astronomer couple Ingrid and Cornelis van Houten at Leiden, on photographic plates taken by Dutch-American astronomer Tom Gehrels at the U.S. Palomar Observatory, California, on 24 September 1960.[4] On the same day, the group discovered another Jupiter trojan, 1869 Philoctetes.

The provisional survey designation "P-L" stands for Palomar–Leiden, named after Palomar Observatory and Leiden Observatory, which collaborated on the fruitful Palomar–Leiden survey in the 1960s and 1970s. Gehrels used Palomar's Samuel Oschin telescope (also known as the 48-inch Schmidt Telescope), and shipped the photographic plates to Cornelis and Ingrid van Houten at Leiden Observatory, where astrometry was carried out. The trio are credited with the discovery of several thousand minor planets.[10]

Orbit and classification[edit]

Thersites is orbiting in the leading Greek camp at Jupiter's L4 Lagrangian point, 60° ahead of its orbit (see Trojans in astronomy). It orbits the Sun in the outer main-belt at a distance of 4.7–5.9 AU once every 12 years and 3 months (4,479 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.11 and an inclination of 17° with respect to the ecliptic.[1] The first precovery was taken at Palomar Observatory in 1954, extending the asteroid's observation arc by 6 years prior to its discovery.[4]

Physical characteristics[edit]

The Trojan asteroid has been characterized as a dark C-type asteroid.[3]

Rotation period[edit]

In 1994, photometric observations of Thersites were made by Italian astronomer Stefano Mottola at ESO's La Silla Observatory, Chile, using the Dutch 0.9-metre Telescope. The observations were used to build a lightcurve showing a rotation period of 10.416±0.014 hours with a brightness variation of 0.14±0.01 magnitude (U=2+).[9]

Diameter and albedo[edit]

According to the space-based surveys carried out by the Japanese Akari satellite and the NEOWISE mission of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the asteroid's diameter measures 78.9 and 68.2 kilometers, respectively, with a low albedo of 0.055 for its surface.[6][8] The Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link assumes a standard albedo for carbonaceous asteroids of 0.057, and calculates a shorter diameter of 66.9 kilometers with an absolute magnitude of 9.6.[3]


This minor planet was named from Greek mythology after Thersites, a Greek warrior who wanted to abandon Troy's siege during the Trojan War and head home. The given name also refers to the fact, that the asteroid was discovered farthest from the L4 Lagrangian point.[2] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center before November 1977 (M.P.C. 3826).[11]


  1. ^ a b c d "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 1868 Thersites (2008 P-L)" (2017-05-05 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (1868) Thersites. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 150. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "LCDB Data for (1868) Thersites". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "1868 Thersites (2008 P-L)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  5. ^ "List of Jupiter Trojans". Minor Planet Center. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Mainzer, A.; Grav, T.; Masiero, J.; Hand, E.; Bauer, J.; Tholen, D.; et al. (November 2011). "NEOWISE Studies of Spectrophotometrically Classified Asteroids: Preliminary Results". The Astrophysical Journal. 741 (2): 25. arXiv:1109.6407Freely accessible. Bibcode:2011ApJ...741...90M. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/741/2/90. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Grav, T.; Mainzer, A. K.; Bauer, J. M.; Masiero, J. R.; Nugent, C. R. (November 2012). "WISE/NEOWISE Observations of the Jovian Trojan Population: Taxonomy". The Astrophysical Journal. 759 (1): 10. arXiv:1209.1549Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012ApJ...759...49G. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/759/1/49. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Usui, Fumihiko; Kuroda, Daisuke; Müller, Thomas G.; Hasegawa, Sunao; Ishiguro, Masateru; Ootsubo, Takafumi; et al. (October 2011). "Asteroid Catalog Using Akari: AKARI/IRC Mid-Infrared Asteroid Survey". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. 63 (5): 1117–1138. Bibcode:2011PASJ...63.1117U. doi:10.1093/pasj/63.5.1117. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Mottola, Stefano; Di Martino, Mario; Erikson, Anders; Gonano-Beurer, Maria; Carbognani, Albino; Carsenty, Uri; et al. (May 2011). "Rotational Properties of Jupiter Trojans. I. Light Curves of 80 Objects". The Astronomical Journal. 141 (5): 32. Bibcode:2011AJ....141..170M. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/141/5/170. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Minor Planet Discoverers". Minor Planet Center. 24 April 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 

External links[edit]