Washington: 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 Tabare 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.
"The simulations we have carried out in the Data Processing Center 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, explained to SINC.
In addition, Crantor`s orbit has a very similar semi-major axis to that of Uranus, although its eccentricity and inclination vary.
"This 70 km-wide asteroid`s orbit is controlled by the Sun and Uranus but is unstable due to disturbances from nearby Saturn," stated De la Fuente Marcos.
The researcher also reveals that they found another object, which has been named 2010 EU65 and moves in a similar orbit to Crantor`s, "although much more stable because its trajectory is less eccentric."
Similarly, the latest data of a third asteroid, 2011 QF99 -- the discovery of which was made public only a few weeks ago-also indicate that its orbit is in line with that of Uranus.
According to the Minor Planet Center, the regulating organization for the naming of asteroids and comets, the three objects that "follow" Uranus belong to the group of the Centaurs.
The trajectories, figures and animations of the objects are published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysic s.