Astrophysicists Say Three Centaurs Are Following Uranus

Posted on June 26, 2013

Three centaurs and Uranus orbits

Astrophysicists from the Complutense University of Madrid say three centaurs are following Uranus through the solar system. Centaurs, named after mythical horse human creatures, are small bodies in the solar system with unstable orbits. The astrophysicists have confirmed that Crantor, a large asteroid with a diameter of 70 kilometers (about 43 miles) has an orbit similar to that of Uranus and takes the same amount of time to orbit the Sun. The researcher say two other centaurs are also co-orbital with Uranus.

Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the authors of the study, told SINC, "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."

The two other objects are 2010 EU65 and asteroid 2011 QF99. Crantor and 2010 EU65 have horseshoe-like orbits and 2011 QF99 has a more stable orbit.

The scientists calculate that the orbits of these three objects associated with Uranus could remain stable for a few million years. This is a very long time in human years, but in astronomical terms it is not very long.

Here is an animation of the orbits of Uranus and the centaurs. Take a look:

Image: SINC