Trojan Asteroids

When small bodies orbit in 1:1 resonance they may become synchronised and trapped near positions +60 or -60 degrees round the orbit of major body. This behaviour was first observed relative to Jupiter when 588 Achilles was discovered in 1906. Since then it has become tradition for such bodies to be named after heroes of the Trojan war and this type of orbit is called a Trojan orbit.

In this integration we are using rotating coordinates to hold Jupiter constantly in the same direction relative to the Sun. The two Asteroids are seen to hold their positions roughly +60 and - 60 degrees from Jupiter. Use the Tilt control to see that their orbits are quite inclined to that of Jupiter.

Tilt back to get circular orbits and click the Orbit control to see the trails of the two Asteroids relative to Jupiter. These kinds of orbits are sometimes called 'tadpole' orbits.

More Trojans

This integration shows a variety of Trojan Asteroids clustered around Jupiter's L4 and L5 Lagrange points. Their orbits draw different shapes depending on the inclination and eccentricity of their orbits.

Jupiter has accumulated quite a few "Trojan" asteroids at its L4 and L5 Lagrangian points.

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The simulation includes Solar System planets (system barycentres) and a selection of Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids.