Mars trojan

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The L5 group (shown in green) and the L4 group (light blue) of Mars trojans on the orbit of Mars. Mars is shown in red. The outer orbit is that of Jupiter.

The Mars trojans are a group of objects that share the orbit of the planet Mars around the Sun. They can be found around the two Lagrangian points 60° ahead of and behind Mars. The origin of the Mars trojans is not well understood. One theory suggests that they were primordial objects leftover from the formation of Mars that were captured in its Lagrangian points as the Solar System was forming. However, spectral studies of the Mars trojans indicate this may not be the case.[1][2] Another explanation involves asteroids chaotically wandering into the Mars Lagrangian points later in the Solar System's formation. This is also questionable considering the short dynamical lifetimes of these objects.[3][4] The spectra of Eureka and two other Mars Trojan indicates an olivine-rich composition.[5] Since olivine-rich objects are rare in the asteroid belt it has been suggested that some of the Mars trojans are debris from a large impact on Mars that was captured when the orbit of Mars was altered when it encountered a planetary embryo.[6][3]

Presently, this group contains seven asteroids confirmed to be stable Mars trojans by long-term numerical simulations but only four of them are accepted by the Minor Planet Center (†)[7] and there is one candidate:[3][4][8][9]

Due to close orbital similarities, most of the smaller members of the L5 group are hypothesized to be fragments of Eureka that were detached after it was spun up by the YORP effect (Eureka's rotational period is 2.69 h). The L4 trojan 1999 UJ7 has a much longer rotational period of ~50 h, apparently due to a chaotic rotation that prevents YORP spinup.[10]

L4 (leading):

L5 (trailing):


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rivkin, Andrew; Trilling, David; Thomas, Cristina; DeMeo, Fancesca; Spahr, Timoth; Binzel, Richard (2007). "Composition of the L5 Mars Trojans: Neighbors, not siblings". Icarus. 192 (2): 434–441. arXiv:0709.1925Freely accessible. Bibcode:2007Icar..192..434R. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.06.026. 
  2. ^ Trilling, David; Rivking, Andrew; Stansberry, John; Spahr, Timothy; Crudo, Richard; Davies, John (2007). "Albedos and diameters of three Mars Trojan asteroids". Icarus. 192 (2): 442–447. arXiv:0709.1921Freely accessible. Bibcode:2007Icar..192..442T. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.08.002. 
  3. ^ a b c Scholl, H.; Marzari, F.; Tricarico, P. (2005). "Dynamics of Mars Trojans". Icarus. 175 (2): 397–408. Bibcode:2005Icar..175..397S. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2005.01.018. 
  4. ^ a b Schwarz, R.; Dvorak, R. (2012). "Trojan capture by terrestrial planets". Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. 113 (1): 23–34. arXiv:1611.07413Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012CeMDA.113...23S. doi:10.1007/s10569-012-9404-4. 
  5. ^ Borisov, G.; Christou, A.; Bagnulo, S.; Cellino, A.; Kwiatkowski, T.; Dell'Oro, A. (2017). "he olivine-dominated composition of the Eureka family of Mars Trojan asteroids". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 466 (1): 489–495. arXiv:1701.07725Freely accessible. Bibcode:2017MNRAS.466..489B. doi:10.1093/mnras/stw3075. 
  6. ^ Polishook, D.; Jacobson, S. A.; Morbidelli, A.; Aharonson, O. (2017). "A Martian origin for the Mars Trojan asteroids". Nature Astronomy. 1: 0179. arXiv:1710.00024Freely accessible. Bibcode:2017NatAs...1E.179P. doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0179. 
  7. ^ "List Of Martian Trojans". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  8. ^ de la Fuente Marcos, Carlos; de la Fuente Marcos, Raúl (April 2013). "Three new stable L5 Mars Trojans". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 432 (1): L31–L35. arXiv:1303.0124Freely accessible. Bibcode:2013MNRAS.432L..31D. doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slt028. 
  9. ^ Christou, A. A. (2013). "Orbital clustering of Martian Trojans: An asteroid family in the inner solar system?". Icarus. 224 (1): 144–153. arXiv:1303.0420Freely accessible. Bibcode:2013Icar..224..144C. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.02.013. 
  10. ^ Lovett, R. (2017-10-20). "Sun's light touch explains asteroids flying in formation behind Mars". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aar2794.