For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that this and a further two objects of the group of the Centaurs- asteroid-comet hybrids - are co-orbital with Uranus.
MessageToEagle.com - A large asteroid - Crantor - with a diameter of 70 km has an orbit similar to that of Uranus and takes the same amount of time to orbit the Sun, confirmed astrophysicists from the Complutense University of Madrid.
In 2006, Uruguayan astronomer Tabaré Gallardo suggested that the asteroids Crantor and 2000 SN331 complete their orbits of the Sun in the same time period as Uranus -- an orbit of approximately 84 Earth years.
Now two researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain) have confirmed that in the case of Crantor this is true.
"The simulations we have carried out in the Data Processing Centre of the UCM indicate that 2000 SN331 does not have 1:1 commensurability with Uranus, but Crantor does, which means it orbits the Sun in exactly the same time period as the planet," Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the authors of the study, explains.
"This 70 km-wide asteroid's orbit is controlled by the Sun and Uranus but is unstable due to disturbances from nearby Saturn," states De la Fuente Marcos.
Click on image to enlargeArtist’s impression of asteroid Crantor near Uranus. SINC
The researcher also reveals that they found another object, which has been named 2010 EU65 and moves in a similar orbit to Crantor's, "although much more stable because its trajectory is less eccentric."
Similarly, the latest data of a third asteroid, 2011 QF99 -- the discovery of which was made public only a few weeks ago -- also indicate that its orbit is in line with that of Uranus.
Centaurs are primitive, peculiar objects orbiting in the middle solar system. Centaurs have surfaces showing dramatically different spectral reflectances, from neutral to very red. Some spectra are featureless, while others show signatures of water ice, methanol, or other light hydro- carbons.
Centaurs were formed far beyond Jupiter’s orbit, but both were formed at low temperatures at which water exists as solid ice.
According to the Minor Planet Center, the regulating organization for the naming of asteroids and comets, the three objects that "follow" Uranus belong to the group of the Centaurs.
"Crantor, 2010 EU65 and 2011 QF99 are the first bodies to be documented as co-orbiting with Uranus," affirms De la Fuente Marcos, "although with distinct movements and trajectories."
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