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, 313 (5786), 511-4

A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors


A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors

Scott S Sheppard et al. Science.


The dynamical and physical properties of asteroids offer one of the few constraints on the formation, evolution, and migration of the giant planets. Trojan asteroids share a planet's semimajor axis but lead or follow it by about 60 degrees near the two triangular Lagrangian points of gravitational equilibrium. Here we report the discovery of a high-inclination Neptune Trojan, 2005 TN(53). This discovery demonstrates that the Neptune Trojan population occupies a thick disk, which is indicative of "freeze-in" capture instead of in situ or collisional formation. The Neptune Trojans appear to have a population that is several times larger than the Jupiter Trojans. Our color measurements show that Neptune Trojans have statistically indistinguishable slightly red colors, which suggests that they had a common formation and evolutionary history and are distinct from the classical Kuiper Belt objects.

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