The differing magnitude distributions of the two Jupiter Trojan color populations

Ian Wong, Michael E. Brown, Joshua P. Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The Jupiter Trojans are a significant population of minor bodies in the middle solar system that have garnered substantial interest in recent years. Several spectroscopic studies of these objects have revealed notable bimodalities with respect to near-infrared spectra, infrared albedo, and color, which suggest the existence of two distinct groups among the Trojan population. In this paper, we analyze the magnitude distributions of these two groups, which we refer to as the red and less red color populations. By compiling spectral and photometric data from several previous works, we show that the observed bimodalities are self-consistent and categorize 221 of the 842 Trojans with absolute magnitudes in the range H < 12.3 into the two color populations. We demonstrate that the magnitude distributions of the two color populations are distinct to a high confidence level (>95%) and fit them individually to a broken power law, with special attention given to evaluating and correcting for incompleteness in the Trojan catalog as well as incompleteness in our categorization of objects. A comparison of the best-fit curves shows that the faint-end power-law slopes are markedly different for the two color populations, which indicates that the red and less red Trojans likely formed in different locations. We propose a few hypotheses for the origin and evolution of the Trojan population based on the analyzed data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • asteroids: general
  • minor planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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