Vol 12, No 11

Trailing (L5) Neptune Trojans: 2004 KV18 and 2008 LC18

Pu Guan, Li-Yong Zhou, Jian Li


Abstract The population of Neptune Trojans is believed to be bigger than that of Jupiter Trojans and that of asteroids in the main belt, although only eight members of this distant asteroid swarm have been observed up to now. Six leading Neptune Trojans around the Lagrange point L4 discovered earlier have been studied in detail, but two trailing ones found recently around the L5 point, 2004 KV18 and 2008 LC18, have not yet been investigated. We report our investigations on the dynamical behaviors of these two new Neptune Trojans. Our calculations show that the asteroid 2004 KV18 is a temporary Neptune Trojan. Most probably, it was captured into the trailing Trojan cloud no earlier than 2.03 × 105 yr ago, and it will not maintain this position later than 1.65 × 105 yr in the future. Based on the statistics from our orbital simulations, we argue that this object is more like a scattered Kuiper belt object. By contrast, the orbit of 2008 LC18 is much more stable. Among the clone orbits spreading within the orbital uncertainties, a considerable portion of clones may survive on the L5 tadpole orbits for 4 Gyr. The strong dependence of the stability on the semimajor axis and resonant angle suggests that further observations are badly required to constrain the orbit in the stable region. We also discuss the implications of the existence and dynamics of these two trailing Trojans over the history of the solar system.


Keywords solar system: general — Kuiper belt — asteroids — methods: numerical

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