We should consider ourselves so lucky for having a planet like Jupiter present in our solar system. The gas giant protects us against many unwanted visitors from space in the form of asteroids and comets. Jupiter acts like a vacuum cleaner of our solar system, and most probably, we would have been long gone without the presence of the giant planet.
But Jupiter now brings us another interesting discovery. Well, it’s not actually the planet responsible for the discovery, but it carries it along somehow.
The Jupiter Trojan enters the scene
The newfound mysterious cosmic object has been dubbed as 2019 LD2. More precisely, it’s the only active Jupiter Trojan. University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy has brought the big news to the public. Trojans, unlike those pieces of software present doing harm to our computers, are a group of inert asteroids located at the same orbital trajectory as the gaseous giant Jupiter. However, 2019 LD2 is differentiating a little by being pretty active. The cosmic object sports a comet-like tail.
Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomy professor at Queen’s University Belfast, declared:
“We have believed for decades that Trojan asteroids should have large amounts of ice beneath their surfaces, but never had any evidence until now,
ATLAS has shown that the predictions of their icy nature may well be correct.”
The 2019 LD2 object completes a full rotation around the Sun once every 12 years. The object is located at 5.29 AU from our host star, while 1 AU means the distance between Earth and the Sun. According to the latest measurements, there are 151.6 million km separating our planet from the Sun.
As you probably had guessed already judging by its name, 2019 LD2 was discovered last year. The cosmic object was spotted by astronomers from the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS).