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Cosmic Turnaround As Earth Tracks Trojan Asteroid

July 28, 2011 Comments off

irishweatheronline

Astronomers have discovered the first known “Trojan” asteroid orbiting the sun along with Earth.

The 300-metre-wide (1,000 ft) asteroid is located approximately 50 million miles (80 million kilometres) from earth and was discovered by astronomers studying observations taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

The asteroid’s orbit is well-defined and for at least the next 100 years, it will not come closer to Earth than 15 million miles (24 million kilometres).

The findings will be published in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature.

Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with a planet near stable points in front of or behind the planet. Because they constantly lead or follow in the same orbit as the planet, they never can collide with it. In our solar system, Trojans also share orbits with Neptune, Mars and Jupiter. Two of Saturn’s moons share orbits with Trojans.

Scientists had predicted Earth should have Trojans, but they have been difficult to find because Read more…