A retrograde co-orbital asteroid of Jupiter

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Abstract

Asteroid 2015 BZ509 is a retrograde co-orbital asteroid of the planet Jupiter, stably orbiting in a sense opposite to that of Jupiter's orbit around the Sun for around a million years.

Recent theoretical work in celestial mechanics has revealed that an asteroid may orbit stably in the same region as a planet, despite revolving around the Sun in the sense opposite to that of the planet itself1,2,3,4,5. Asteroid 2015 BZ509 was discovered6 in 2015, but with too much uncertainty in its measured orbit to establish whether it was such a retrograde co-orbital body. Here we report observations and analysis that demonstrates that asteroid 2015 BZ509 is indeed a retrograde co-orbital asteroid of the planet Jupiter. We find that 2015 BZ509 has long-term stability, having been in its current, resonant state for around a million years. This is long enough to preclude precise calculation of the time or mechanism of its injection to its present state, but it may be a Halley-family comet that entered the resonance through an interaction with Saturn. Retrograde co-orbital asteroids of Jupiter and other planets may be more common than previously expected.

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