New results from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE, reveal that the Jovian Trojans
– asteroids that lap the sun in the same orbit as Jupiter –
are uniformly dark with a hint of burgundy color, and have matte surfaces that reflect little sunlight.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids Show Their True Colors

Source: JPL press release

Scientists using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans — asteroids that orbit the Sun on the same path as Jupiter. Like racehorses, the asteroids travel in packs, with one group leading the way in front of the gas giant, and a second group trailing behind.

The observations are the first to get a detailed look at the Trojans’ colors: both the leading and trailing packs are made up of predominantly dark, reddish rocks with a matte, non-reflecting surface. What’s more, the data verify the previous suspicion that the leading pack of Trojans outnumbers the trailing bunch.

The new results offer clues in the puzzle of the asteroids’ origins. Where did the Trojans come from? What are they made of? WISE has shown that the two packs of rocks are strikingly similar and do not harbor any “out-of-towners,” or interlopers, from other parts of the Solar System. The Trojans do not resemble the asteroids from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, nor the Kuiper belt family of objects from the icier, outer regions near Pluto.

Read more: Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids Show Their True Colors — Astrobiology Magazine.

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