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Trojan Asteroids Found In Neptunian Orbit 44

Posted by Zonk
from the watch-for-falling-objects dept.
Agent Provocateur writes to mention a release at Science Daily about three rogue asteroids discovered by the Carnegie Institute. The objects are in about the same orbit as Neptune, lending evidence that the planet has a cloud of these 'Trojan' celestial bodies. From the article: "Trojan asteroids cluster around one of two points that lead or trail the planet by about 60 degrees in its orbit, known as Lagrangian points. In these areas, the gravitational pull of the planet and the Sun combine to lock the asteroids into stable orbits synchronized with the planet. German Astronomer Max Wolf identified the first Jupiter Trojan in 1906, and since then, more than 1800 such asteroids have been identified marching along that planet's orbit. "
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Trojan Asteroids Found In Neptunian Orbit

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  • Obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:41AM (#15548219) Homepage Journal
    Neptune uses Trojans to guard against Spatially Transmitted Debris.
  • ...ya know, I could make a joke about prophylactics and the 7th planet...but I'm sure the suggestion alone is enough for the crowd to finish the punchline...
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:51AM (#15548293)
    At least leave the other Planets alone, isn't this planet big enough for you?
  • nyuk-nyuk (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrSquirrel (976630) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:52AM (#15548299)
    Trojan asteroids? I hope the computers on the International Space Station have up-to-date virus definitions!
  • with all sorts of advertising tie ins.
  • Now to locate one of these running parallel to Earth and use it for my base of operations when I take over...

    Oh yezzzzzzz
  • If there are 1800 known, why is 3 additional ones being found all the important?
    • Re:1800ish and 3? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ChristTrekker (91442) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:29AM (#15548567)

      I believe it was saying that 1800 Jovian Trojans have been found. These are the first Neptunian Trojans to be discovered. Being that much farther from the sun, they are far more difficult to detect. Also, since Neptune's mass is less than Jupiter's and it is further from the main asteroid belt, it might not have as many to begin with.

      • Re:1800ish and 3? (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The first Neptune trojan was discovered in 2001 [wikipedia.org]. These three were discovered since then over the course of the last 2-3 years. Not particularly new, but the paper finally got published.
      • Also, since Neptune's mass is less than Jupiter's and it is further from the main asteroid belt, it might not have as many to begin with.

        Yeah, but it still has the Kuiper asteroid belt. That's maybe not as important as the one belt between Jupiter and Mars, but it's still something.

  • I thought astronomers searched the obvious places first. They really should have looked for these things around Uranus.

    Dan East
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:42AM (#15548666)
    At this distance they're more likely to be captured Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects and therefore more likely to resemble comet nuclei. Neptune already has a large number of EKBO's in a 3:2 resonance, including the "planet" Pluto - we sometimes call objects in the 3:2 resonance with Neptune 'Plutinos'. So, the fact that some objects get caught in this stable 1:1 resonance hardly surprises me, but it's nice to have someone actually identify such objects.
  • From the Article:

    One of the new Trojans has an orbit that is more steeply tilted to the plane of the solar system than the other three.

    The burning question is - how can they call it a "trojan asteroid" if it doesn't occupy the same orbit as Neptune? A significant orbital inclination vis a vis Neptune makes it a passing stranger at best, not something captured in Neptune's Lagrange points.

    • Re:Trojans? (Score:4, Informative)

      by wileyAU (889251) on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:38AM (#15549567) Homepage

      The burning question is - how can they call it a "trojan asteroid" if it doesn't occupy the same orbit as Neptune? A significant orbital inclination vis a vis Neptune makes it a passing stranger at best, not something captured in Neptune's Lagrange points.

      Not quite. The L4 and L5 Lagrange points are kind of like gravitational collection points. There is a fairly large area surrounding these points where objects can play around based on whatever other forces are affecting them, but still remain trapped by the Lagrange point. So, if you look at a "top-down" view of the solar system, the asteroid would be moving in lock-step with Neptune's orbit at the Lagrange point. But if you look at a "side-on" view, the orbit would follow kind of a wave patern, with one period equal to one orbit.

  • With all those Space Trojans floating around....

    "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy, and bruised."
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:52AM (#15549674) Homepage Journal
    Google supplied these ads for the article:

    Jupiter's Finest Florist
    Guaranteed Same Day Local Delivery 100's of items to choose - Save $10
    www.11Flowers.com/Jupiter

    Local Jupiter Florist
    Same Day Jupiter Delivery Guarantee Family Owned For Over 90 Years!
    www.FlowerShopping.com/Jupiter

    I'm especially interested in Same Day Jupiter Delivery. That would be a great scientific *and* floral achievement. In particular, the "Local Jupiter Florist" that's been "Family Owned for over 90 Years" -- is the Jupiter location new, or have they been there since around 1915 (thereby missing that terrible flu outbreak)? I can't imagine there would have been much business for flowers on (or near) Jupiter in the early 1900's, but then, making a living would come in a distant second behind "staying alive" in that location.
    • I got this one:

      Moving to Jupiter Fl?
      Research, homes, community & school for Jupiter and surrounding areas
      www.simmondsrealty.com

      Considering the size of Jupiter, the noxious atmosphere, and the lack of animal or plant life (at least, as we know it), I daresay real estate on Jupiter is rather cheap. The schools on Jupiter (and in surrounding areas) are stellar... or so I hear.
      • The schools on Jupiter (and in surrounding areas) are stellar... or so I hear.

        Much better than on Mars. Mars ain't no kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it's cold as hell. And there's no one there to raise them if you did. At least, that's what a passing rocket man [eltonography.com] told me. Of course, he also mentioned all this science he didn't understand, too.
  • So... they are ... horse-shaped???? (horrible thought) DON'T BRING ONE HOME, NASA!!! IT IS FULL OF GREEK WARRIORS YOU IDIOTS!! I mean really, our national MHPC (milli-helen per capita) is low enough already that cocker-spaniel-like-"got-de-downs"-eyed-trailer-fo lk are being turned into superstars for vaguely carrying an R&B tune. ow. Don't let them take our national reserves of hotchickery! ---- crappy triceratops

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