Search for L5 Earth Trojans with DECam

Larissa Markwardt, D. W. Gerdes, R. Malhotra, J. C. Becker, S. J. Hamilton, F. C. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Most of the major planets in the Solar system support populations of co-orbiting bodies, known as Trojans, at their L4 and L5 Lagrange points. In contrast, Earth has only one known co-orbiting companion. This paper presents the results from a search for Earth Trojans (ETs) using the DECam instrument on the Blanco Telescope at CTIO. This search found no additional Trojans in spite of greater coverage compared to previous surveys of the L5 point. Therefore, the main result of this work is to place the most stringent constraints to date on the population of ETs. These constraints depend on assumptions regarding the underlying population properties, especially the slope of the magnitude distribution (which in turn depends on the size and albedo distributions of the objects). For standard assumptions, we calculate upper limits to a 90 per cent confidence limit on the L5 population of NET < 1 for magnitude H < 15.5, NET = 60–85 for H < 19.7, and NET = 97 for H = 20.4. This latter magnitude limit corresponds to Trojans ∼300 m in size for albedo 0.15. At H = 19.7, these upper limits are consistent with previous L4 ET constraints and significantly improve L5 constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6105-6119
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Asteroids: general
  • Methods: observational – minor planets,

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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