Trojan asteroids don’t represent a very familiar concept for most people. Such space rocks are those asteroids that share the same orbit with a planet around its host star. Scientists now confirm the existence of 2020 XL5, the second Trojan asteroid discovered that shares the same orbit as Earth, according to Gizmodo.
The newfound Trojan asteroid was discovered in 2020, as its name suggests. Its size is pretty imposing, as the space rocks measures about a mile wide. This makes it significantly larger than the other Trojan asteroid found in the Earth’s orbit, the one known as 2010 TK7.
2020 XL5 will remain in Earth’s orbit for 4,000 years more
Considering that 2020 XL5 will remain in our planet’s orbit for four millennia more, astronomers will have plenty of time to analyze it. We can only hope that they’ll benefit from all this time at maximum and bring some valuable data about the Trojan asteroid. Who knows, maybe they’ll even get to learn more about the Solar System!
Santana-Ros from the University in Barcelona explained in an email for one of Gizmodo’s writers, as the publication quotes:
In order to improve the knowledge of its orbit, we performed follow-up observations in February and March 2021, which allowed us to calculate with great accuracy the orbit of the object,
In turn, this allowed us to find ancillary data of the object in the data archive.
During a press release, Cesar Briceño, who’s a co-author of the study, wrote:
These were very challenging observations, requiring the [SOAR] telescope to track correctly at its lowest elevation limit, as the object was very low on the western horizon at dawn.
Hopefully, many more exciting cosmic objects from the Solar System will be discovered by astronomers.
The new study was published in Nature Communications.