Scientists offer a new explanation for the mystery

Nikolaos Georgakarakos

Photo: NYU Abu Dhabi scholar Nikolaos Georgakarakos
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Credit: Courtesy of NYU Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 17, 2023: An international team of scientists, including NYU Abu Dhabi researcher Nikolaos Georgakarakos and others from the United States, Japan and China led by Jian Li of Nanjing University, has developed new insights that may explain the numerical asymmetry of the L4 Trojan and L5 Jupiter Trojan swarms, two groups containing more than 10,000 asteroids are moving along the orbital path of Jupiter around the sun.

For decades, scientists have known that there are many more asteroids in the L4 swarm than in the L5 swarm, but they haven’t fully understood the reason for this discrepancy. 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 occurred during earlier periods 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 paper, Asymmetry in the number of L4 and L5 Jupiter Trojans driven by Jupiter’s hopping, Published in the journal Astronomy and astrophysicsThe researchers presented a mechanism that could explain the observed number asymmetry. “We suggest that Jupiter’s rapid outward transition, in terms of its distance to the Sun, could distort the composition of the Trojan swarms, leading to more stable L4 swarm orbits compared to L5 orbits,” Li said. , which temporarily caused different evolutionary trajectories for the two groups of asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit, provides a new, natural explanation for the unbiased observation, that the L4 asteroids are about 1.6 times more numerous than the asteroids in the L5 swarm. “

The model simulates the orbital evolution of Jupiter, caused by planetary orbital instability in the early solar system. This caused Jupiter to migrate outward at a very high speed; The migration, which the researchers hypothesized was the likely cause of changes in the stability of nearby asteroid swarms. Future models could expand on this work by including additional aspects of the solar system’s evolution, which they could depict with improved resolution. This could include simulating rapid migrations of Jupiter at different speeds, and the impacts of nearby planets.

“The characteristics of the present solar system hold unsolved mysteries in its formation and early evolution,” Georgakarakos said. “The ability to successfully simulate an event from an early stage in the evolution of the solar system and apply these findings to modern-day questions could also be a key tool as astrophysicists and other researchers work to learn more about the dawning of our universe.”

About NYU Abu Dhabi
NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East operated by a major American research university abroad. NYUAD has combined a highly selective program with majors in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts, and humanities with a world-class center for advanced research. Its campus enables students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, promoting collaboration and progress in humanity’s common challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s top students have come from nearly 120 countries and speak more than 115 languages. NYU’s New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai campuses together form the backbone of a uniquely global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience diverse learning environments and immerse themselves in other cultures at one or more of the many study abroad locations NYU maintains on six continents. .

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