From horseshoe to quasi-satellite and back again: the curious dynamics of Earth co-orbital asteroid 2015 SO2
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Earth co-orbitals of the horseshoe type are interesting objects to study for practical reasons. They are relatively easy to access from our planet and that makes them attractive targets for sample return missions. Here, we show that near-Earth asteroid (NEA) 2015 SO2 is a transient co-orbital to the Earth that experiences a rather peculiar orbital evolution characterised by recurrent, alternating horseshoe and quasi-satellite episodes. It is currently following a horseshoe trajectory, the ninth asteroid known to do so. Besides moving inside the 1:1 mean motion resonance with the Earth, it is subjected to a Kozai resonance with the value of the argument of perihelion librating around 270°. Contrary to other NEAs, asteroid 2015 SO2 may have remained in the vicinity of Earth’s co-orbital region for a few hundreds of thousands of years.
KeywordsCelestial mechanics Minor planets, asteroids: general Minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2015 SO2 Planets and satellites: individual: Earth
We thank two anonymous referees for their constructive and helpful reports, and S.J. Aarseth for providing the main code used in this research. In preparation of this paper, we made use of the NASA Astrophysics Data System, the ASTRO-PH e-print server and the MPC data server.
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