Scientists propose a new explanation for the numerical asymmetry of Trojan asteroid clusters

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers has developed a new hypothesis that can explain the numerical asymmetry of two Trojan asteroid clusters located in the vicinity of the Lagrange points L4 and L5.

For decades, scientists have known that there are significantly more asteroids in the L4 swarm than in the L5 swarm, but did not fully understand the reason for this asymmetry.

In the current configuration of the solar system, the two swarms show almost identical properties of dynamic stability and survivability, so scientists have come to believe that the differences arose in the earlier periods of the life of the solar system.

Determining the cause of these differences could reveal new details about the formation and evolution of the solar system. The researchers present a mechanism that could explain the observed numerical asymmetry.

“We hypothesize that Jupiter’s rapid outward migration – in terms of distance from the Sun – could skew the configuration of the Trojan swarms, resulting in more stable orbits in the L4 swarm than in the L5 swarm,” Li said.

“This mechanism, which temporarily caused different evolutionary paths for the two groups of asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit, provides a new and natural explanation for the unbiased observation that there are about 1.6 times as many L4 asteroids as there are asteroids in the L5 swarm.”

The model simulates the orbital evolution of Jupiter caused by the instability of the planet’s orbit in the early solar system. This led to Jupiter’s outward migration at a very high rate.

Migration, the researchers suggest, was a possible cause of changes in the stability of nearby asteroid swarms.

The scientists note that future models could expand this work to include additional aspects of the solar system’s evolution.


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