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What is a trojan asteroid

  1. Jul 23, 2014 #1

    A term referring to any of the small bodies that tend to collect at the L4 and L5 Lagrange points.


    Extended explanation

    There are two stable points located 60° ahead and behind of Jupiter in its orbit where small astronomical objects tend to collect. These are Jupiter's L4 and L5 points.

    The first of these objects was discovered by the astronomer Max Wolf in 1906 and named 588 Achilles. As subsequent objects were found they were also named after characters from Homer's The Illiad. Since this poem dealt with the Trojan war, these became to be known as Trojan asteroids, and the Jovian L4 and L5 points called Trojan points.

    Convention has it that the asteroids located at L4 are named after Greek characters, making this the "Greek group" and the asteroids at L5 named after Trojan characters, making it the "Trojan group". However, before this convention became fully adopted, one asteroid in each group was named after a member of the opposing side, giving each camp a "spy" among the enemy.

    The term "Trojan points" has since come to be used for the the L4 & L5 points of any body and not just those of Jupiter, and "Trojan objects" for the objects located there. The term "Trojan Asteroid", however, still just refers objects at Jupiter's L4 and L5 points.

    * This entry is from our old Library feature. If you know who wrote it, please let us know so we can attribute a writer. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
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