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A new celestial body has joined Mars in its orbit

A new celestial body has joined Mars in its orbit

A new celestial body has been discovered in the orbit of Mars, which orbits the Sun like the Red Planet.

Astronomers have confirmed the presence of a new Trojan asteroid in Mars' orbit, as it has been detected IFLScience From his article. The Red Planet's new companion overtakes Mars in its orbit around the Sun, but unlike the other Trojan asteroids, its path may be more unstable, suggesting interesting possibilities about its past.

A strange celestial body in the solar system

The Trojan asteroid is in the same orbit as the planet and is moving with it. Around two gravitational objects (in this case, the Sun and a planet), there are five points where much smaller objects can be placed in this way. They orbit the star in the same way as a planet.

These are called Lagrange points. One is on the other side of the orbit, one is between the planet and the Sun, and one is slightly behind the planet. Then there are two more on the path, one ahead of it by 60 degrees and one following it also by 60 degrees.

There are only two known Trojan asteroids orbiting Earth, but they are difficult to study. Mars has 17, most of them subordinate.

Aside from the just discovered object, there is only one other celestial body that predates the Red Planet, 1999 UJ7. Researchers believe the now confirmed object, 2023 FW14, may be related to it.

“While the 16 known Trojans show long-term stability, the trajectory of the new Trojan is not stable,” lead author Raúl de la Fuente Marcos of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid said in a statement. “There are two possibilities for its origin: it may have been part of the 1999 UJ7 Trojan, or it may have been captured from a group of near-Earth asteroids crossing the orbit of Mars.”

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It fits in line

The Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) agency confirmed that the asteroid belongs to the Martian Trojans. The light spectrum of the object was also collected using the instrument. Spectrographs allow astronomers to study the composition of distant celestial bodies. And in the case of the 2023 FW14, it provides important insight into its origins.

“Although the GTC spectrum of 2023 FW14 differs somewhat from that of another L4 Trojan, 1999 UJ7, they both belong to the same compositional group, and are primitive-type asteroids, unlike the L5 Trojans, which are all rocky and silicate-rich,” she added. Julia de Leon, a researcher at IAC and co-author of the article.

All of the L5 Trojan asteroids appear to be associated with the largest object there, the Eureka asteroid, which is less than 2 kilometers in diameter. It is possible that the orbs in L4 also show some resemblance, but the research team believes it is an asteroid that was temporarily captured as a Trojan and passing through Mars.

Trojan asteroids were visualized by mathematics before they were actually discovered. They were found when scientists were trying to solve the notorious three-body problem. The existence of such celestial bodies provides valuable information about our knowledge of celestial mechanics.

“Studying real Trojans instead of mathematically predicted ones allows us to test the reliability of our theoretical models,” De La Fuente Marcos added.

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