A new asteroid in Earth’s orbit!

2020 XL5 “: this is how experts named the newest member of Earth’s orbit, discovered in December 2020.

Bearing the affectionate nickname of« trojan horse asteroid “, it is not the only cluster of rock that would share the same orbit as ours. Experts say it will take another 4,000 years before it moves out of Earth’s orbit.

It’s not the first

It should be noted that 2020 XL5 is not the first rock cluster suddenly discovered in Earth’s orbit. It’s not even the first to try a “Trojan horse” to be part of the same solar system as Earth. They are now two: 2020 KL5 and 2010 TK7. They are nicknamed “Trojan asteroids” or even “minor planets”.

However, the two are not in the same places. Indeed, one is at the front and the other at the back. Besides this detail, they are similar on two points: trajectory and stability.

2020 XL5 will be gone in 4,000 years

“The SOAR data allowed us to do a first photometric analysis of the object, revealing that 2020 XL 5 is likely a C-type asteroid, larger than a kilometer in size. »

Tonie Santana Ros, astronomer

This rocky pile would in the 1,180m in diameter. Which makes it bigger than its counterpart.

It also looks like 2020 XL5 is just a passing guest from Earth’s orbit. Indeed, by 4,000 years, it might change location based on the study of its current trajectory.

New study perspectives

This discovery, however, offers a new perspective for study by scientists. “By comparing the orbital nature of the two terrestrial Trojans known so far, we can better understand the mechanisms that enable their transient stability. »

2020 XL5 is a C-type asteroid, therefore rich in carbon. A more in-depth study of the latter can therefore make it possible to learn more about the solar system. 75% of the solar system is indeed composed of this kind of asteroid.

However, if the experts wish to study the latter, they must do so quickly. It indeed seems that the trajectory of 2020 XL5 points a little more towards mars.


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