Jupiter is weird enough in its unique beauty. As the biggest planet from our solar system, it protected us from numerous asteroids that could have caused some significant damage to our beloved planet. Jupiter is also a gaseous giant hundreds of times bigger than Earth.
But Jupiter also has some interesting objects near it. Besides those 79 known moons, a new object was found in the proximity of the gas giant, and it’s amazing scientists.
Meet the Jupiter Trojan
The newfound mysterious object is 2019 LD2, and it qualifies for the only active Jupiter Trojan. University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy has brought the news to the public. Trojans are a group of inert asteroids located in the same orbital trajectory as Jupiter. But 2019 LD2 is differentiating by being pretty active, as it sports a comet-like tail. This is the first time when astronomers spotted an active Jupiter Trojan.
2019 LD2 was discovered last year in June. It was spotted by scientists from the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS). Alan Fitzsimmons, who is an astronomy professor at Queen’s University Belfast, declared:
We have believed for decades that Trojan asteroids should have large amounts of ice beneath their surfaces, but never had any evidence until now,
ATLAS has shown that the predictions of their icy nature may well be correct.
As Wikipedia reveals, the 2019 LD2 asteroid orbits the Sun at a distance of 5.29 AU once every 12 years. The orbit has an inclination of 11.6 degrees with respect to the ecliptic and an eccentricity of 0.135. The object’s observation arc begins with a precovery. It was published by the Pan-STARRS 1 survey and took at Haleakala Observatory on 21 May 2018, or 11 months prior to its discovery observation by the ALTAS-MLO survey.
Luckily for us all, there is still a lot more to learn about the solar system in general and about Jupiter and its surrounding objects in particular.