It is strange and fascinating how much we can learn about the history of our solar system from computer simulations. Researchers at Lund University recently determined, for example, that the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, was, 4.5 billion years ago, an earth-sized icy asteroid four times further out in the solar system than it is now.
It spiraled inward and gathered mass over the course of 700,000 years. This model explains a long standing mystery that there are 50 per cent more “Trojan asteroids” on Jupiter’s orbit in front of the gas giant as compared to the number behind it.
Jupiter’s core was probably very much like these Trojans and in 2021, NASA plans to send a probe named Lucy to orbit six of them to learn more. This is according to an article published yesterday on ScienceDaily.
Why are they called Trojans?
The term “Trojan Asteroid” specifically refers to the asteroids co-orbital with Jupiter, but the general term “trojan” is sometimes more generally applied to other small Solar System bodies with similar relationships to larger bodies: for example, there are both Mars trojans and Neptune trojans, as well as a recently-discovered Earth trojan.The term “Trojan asteroid” is normally understood to specifically mean the Jupiter trojans because the first Trojans were discovered near Jupiter’s orbit and Jupiter currently has by far the most known Trojans.
From the story of the Trojan horse, the word Trojan denotes a gift hiding something bad, so the Trojan asteroids are like tiny fake planets hiding the real payload of that particular orbit around the sun, which is Jupiter? That’s my guess as to how they got the name.
In computing, a Trojan horse, or Trojan, is any malicious computer programwhich misleads users of its true intent. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive wooden horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy.
The Earth has only one Trojan asteroid that we know about as of 3/23/2019 and it is named 2010 TK. It orbits ahead of us.
How big is it? Read more about our Trojan asteroid here: Wikipedia.
Will we ever catch up to it and eat it? I couldn’t find a good answer to this question. If you know, post the answer in a comment.
Anyway, there is no risk of the earth becoming a gas giant, is there?
Intriguingly, there is a strange theory that the earth was once a gas giant. The theory says if a gas giant gets too close to a star, the gas is blown away leaving the solid core.
How big is Jupiter’s core?
The size of Jupiter’s core is less accurately known; it is believed to be about 10 to 20 times the size of the Earth, or about 32,000 km (20,000 miles) in diameter.
More at Sciencing
Is Jupiter still moving in towards the sun? Not according to this:
The Sun and the planets are staying approximately the same distance apart and have been in roughly the same places for the last several billion years. Planetary orbits are a fine balancing act between momentum and gravity.
Good to know, but I was sort of hoping Jupiter would become a super earth one day.
Thanks for stopping by for the daily strange news. Wishing you well.