The European Space Agency (ESA) officially unveiled the discovery of a new Earth-associated Trojan asteroid on Tuesday.

This type of asteroid is a space body that evolves in front of or behind a planet to which it is bound by gravity, reports 

Numerama

.

Called 2020 XL5, this one kilometer long space pebble is the second Trojan asteroid in Earth's orbit.

In comparison, 10,000 Trojan asteroids evolve in the orbit of Jupiter.

According to a study published in the journal

Nature Communications

 on Tuesday, 2020 XL5 will remain associated with Earth “for at least 4,000 years”

.

Soon an exploration mission of the asteroid?

The first Trojan asteroid captured by Earth's gravity, 2010 TK7 was discovered in 2011. According to the researchers, Trojan asteroids are actually trapped in certain regions of space, called "Lagrange points", which constitute a point of balance between the gravitational force of the Sun and that of a planet.

Once trapped near a Lagrange point, the asteroid will follow or overtake the planet for a more or less long period.

The point of the 2020 XL5 discovery is that the asteroid will potentially be able to give astronomers insight into Earth's history.

According to

Numerama

, an exploration mission could even be organized there if the object is sufficiently stable.

Detected in December 2020, before its existence was definitively confirmed in early 2022, 2020 XL5 is located as far from Earth as from the Sun, approximately 150 million kilometers from us.

Despite its imposing size, there is therefore no risk of collision.

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  • Astronomy

  • Sun

  • Science

  • Space

  • Earth

  • Asteroid

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