Scientists offer a new explanation for a mystery surrounding Jupiter’s two massive asteroid swarms
An international team of scientists, including NYU Abu Dhabi researcher Nikolaos Georgakarakos and others from the US, Japan and China, led by Jian Li of Nanjing University, has developed new insights that could explain the numerical asymmetry of the L4 and L5 Jupiter Trojan swarms. to declare. , two clusters of more than 10,000 asteroids that move along Jupiter’s orbital path around the sun.
For decades, scientists have known that there are significantly more asteroids in the L4 swarm than in the L5 swarm, but they have not fully understood the reason for this asymmetry. In the current configuration of the solar system, the two swarms exhibit nearly identical dynamic stability and survival properties, leading scientists to believe that the differences arose in earlier times of our solar system’s life. Determining the cause of these differences could reveal new details about the formation and evolution of the solar system.
In the paper, “Asymmetry in the number of L4 and L5 Jupiter Trojans driven by jumping Jupiter”, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysicsthe researchers present a mechanism that may explain the observed number asymmetry.
“We propose that an outward – in terms of distance from the sun – rapid migration of Jupiter may disrupt 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 asteroid groups sharing Jupiter’s orbit provides a new and natural explanation for the unbiased observation that the L4 asteroids are about 1.6 times more than the asteroids in the L5 swarm.”
The model simulates Jupiter’s orbital evolution caused by a planetary orbital instability in the early solar system. This led to Jupiter’s outward migration at a very fast rate; a migration that the researchers hypothesize may have caused the changes in the stability of the nearby asteroid swarms. Future models could extend this work by incorporating additional aspects of the solar system’s evolution, which could represent it with improved accuracy. This could include simulating Jupiter’s rapid migrations at different speeds and the effects of nearby planets.
“The features of the current solar system contain hitherto unsolved mysteries about its formation and early evolution,” Georgakarakos said.
“The ability to successfully simulate an event from an early stage of the solar system’s development and apply those results to contemporary questions could also be an important tool as astrophysicists and other researchers work to learn more about the dawning of our world.”
Jian Li et al, Asymmetry in the number of L4 and L5 Jupiter Trojans powered by leaping Jupiter, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2022). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202244443
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