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Update: Three centaurs follow Uranus through the solar system

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Posted June 19, 2013
Credit: SINC

Credit: SINC

Astrophysicists from the Complutense University of Madrid have confirmed that Crantor, a large asteroid 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. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that this and a further two objects of the group of the Centaurs are co-orbital with Uranus.

Uruguayan astronomer Tabaré Gallardo suggested in 2006 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 to SINC.

In addition, Crantor’s orbit has a very similar semi-major axis to that of Uranus, although its eccentricity and inclination vary. The trajectories, figures and animations are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“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.

Read more at: Phys.org

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