Second-ever Trojan found near Earth will stay close by for 4,000 years

The second-ever confirmed Earth Trojan asteroid, 2020 XL5, will stay at the L4 Lagrangian point for the next four thousand years.

Published Wed, Feb 2 2022 4:23 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Mar 1 2022 2:53 PM CST

A study confirming the asteroid's existence has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Second-ever Trojan found near Earth will stay close by for 4,000 years 01 |

The asteroid is dubbed 2020 XL5 and is the second confirmed transient Earth Trojan asteroid. These asteroids are found orbiting the L4 or L5 Lagrangian points, highly gravitationally stable points in space. Newton's laws of gravity result in five of these points in the Earth-Sun system, where the gravitational forces acting on an object cancel out.

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The asteroid is expected to stay at the L4 Lagrangian point for four thousand years. 2020 XL5 is estimated to be approximately 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) in diameter, compared to the first-identified Earth Trojan 2010 TK7, which has a diameter of ~380 meters. The shared orbit between the L4 point and Earth could allow spacecraft to visit the asteroid with a low energy budget.

"Earth Trojans could become ideal bases for an advanced exploration of the solar system; they could even become a source of resources," said Toni Santana-Ros from the University of Alicante and the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB).

You can read more from the study here.

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