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Title:Orbital clustering of Martian Trojans: An asteroid family in the inner solar system?
Authors:Apostolos A. Christou, 2013
Abstract: We report on the discovery of new Martian Trojans within the Minor Planet Center list of asteroids. Their orbital evolution over 10^8 yr shows characteristic signatures of dynamical longevity (Scholl et al, 2005) while their average orbits resemble that of the largest known Martian Trojan, 5261 Eureka. The group forms a cluster within the region where the most stable Trojans should reside. Based on a combinatorial analysis and a comparison with the Jovian Trojan population, we argue that both this feature and the apparent paucity of km-sized Martian Trojans (Trilling et al, 2006) as compared to expectations from earlier work (Tabachnik and Evans, 1999) is not due to observational bias but instead a natural end result of the collisional comminution (Jutzi et al, 2010) or, alternatively, the rotational fission (Pravec et al, 2010) of a progenitor L5 Trojan of Mars. Under the collisional scenario in particular, the new Martian Trojans are dynamically young, in agreement with our age estimate of this "cluster" of < 2 Gyr based on the earlier work of Scholl et al. This work highlights the Trojan regions of the Terrestrial planets as natural laboratories to study processes important for small body evolution in the solar system and provides the first direct evidence for an orbital cluster of asteroids close to the Earth.
ICHEC Project:
Publication:Icarus, 224, 144-153.
URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.0420
Status: Published

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