Jupiter trojan

The Jupiter trojans, commonly called simply trojans or trojan asteroids, are a large group of objects that share the orbit of the planet Jupiter around the Sun. Relative to a coordinate system that is fixed on Jupiter, each Trojan orbits one or other of the two Lagrangian points of stability, "L4" and "L5", that respectively lie 60° ahead of and behind Jupiter in its orbit. They have orbits with semi-major axes between 5.05 AU and 5.40 AU, and they are distributed throughout elongated, curved regions around the two Lagrangian points. They are called "Trojans" because of a convention that they are named after mythological figures of the Trojan War.

The term "trojan" is also used to refer to other small solar system bodies that have similar relationships to other major bodies: for example, there are Mars trojans and Neptune trojans, and Saturn has trojan moons. (Simulations suggest Saturn and Uranus have few if any trojans.Sheppard and Trujillo (2006). [http://www.ciw.edu/sheppard/pub/Sheppard06NepTroj.pdf "A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors"] . "Science" 313:511-514.] ) The term "Trojan asteroid" is normally understood to specifically mean the Jupiter trojans.

The number of Jovian trojans is approximately equal to the number of asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt. [ [http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/sheppard/satellites/trojan.html "The Trojan Page"] ] (Scott Sheppard)] It appears that the number of Neptunian trojans is several times larger, though only four have been discovered as of 2008. [ [http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/sheppard/trojans/ "Three New "Trojan" Asteroids Found Sharing Neptune's Orbit "] ] ]


E. E. Barnard made the first recorded observation of a Trojan asteroid in 1904, but the significance of his observation was not noted at the time. Barnard believed he had sighted the recently discovered Saturnian satellite Phoebe, which was only two arc-minutes away in the sky at the time, or possibly even a star. The identity of the point of light Barnard had observed was not realised until an orbit was constructed for the Trojan mpl|(12126) 1999 RM|11, an object (re-) discovered in 1999. Since he failed to realise what he was seeing, Barnard's observation is now only a historical curiosity.

The first true discovery of a Trojan occurred in February 1906, when the German astronomer Max Wolf discovered an asteroid at the L4 Lagrangian point of the Sun–Jupiter system, and named it 588 Achilles. The oddity of its orbit was realized within a few months, and before long, many other asteroids were discovered at this point (and at the other triangular Lagrange point of the Sun–Jupiter system).

As of August 2007, there are 640 numbered Trojan asteroids at L4 and 536 at L5, and a further 539 and 509 unnumbered Trojans, respectively. [cite web|title = List of Jupiter Trojans|accessdate = 2007-08-31|url = http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/JupiterTrojans.html] There are undoubtedly many others too small to be seen with current instruments (in October 1999, a total of 170 had been numbered; by July 2004, that number had grown to 877). The largest of the Trojans is 624 Hektor, measuring 370×195 km.


Wolf named the first known Trojan after Achilles, the hero of Homer's epic poem "Iliad", which depicts the Trojan War. Following Wolf's lead, subsequently discovered asteroids in Jupiter's Lagrangian points were given names associated with the "Iliad" and the group as a whole were called "Trojans". Those in the L4 point are named after Greek heroes (the "Greek node" or "Achilles group"), and those at the L5 point are named after the heroes of Troy (the "Trojan node"). Confusingly, 617 Patroclus, the first discovered asteroid at the L5 point, was named before the Greece/Troy rule was devised, and a Greek name thus appears in the Trojan node; the Greek node also has one "misplaced" asteroid, 624 Hektor, named after a Trojan hero. Even more confusingly, the Trojan node is sometimes called the "Patroclean asteroids" after its most prominent member, even though Patroclus was Greek.


A team from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii announced in 2006 that they had measured the density of the binary Trojan asteroid 617 Patroclus as being less than that of water ice, suggesting that the pair, and possibly all the Trojan objects, more closely resemble comets or Kuiper Belt objects in size and composition — water ice with a layer of dust — than they do the main belt asteroids.

See also

* List of Trojan asteroids (Greek camp)
* List of Trojan asteroids (Trojan camp)
* Pronunciation of Trojan asteroid names
* List of objects at Lagrangian points
* Lagrangian point
* Trojan planet
* Trojan moon
* Trojan (astronomy)


External links

* [http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/Trojans.html Minor Planet Center's List of Trojan Minor Planets]
* [http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn9340&feedId=online-news_rss20 New Trojan asteroid hints at huge Neptunian cloud] - New Scientist

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