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, 313 (5786), 511-4

A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors

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A Thick Cloud of Neptune Trojans and Their Colors

Scott S Sheppard et al. Science.

Abstract

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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