This month my latest paper made it to print in the Astronomical Journal. It's a short piece that describes a serendipitous discovery that my collaborators and I made while searching for a distant Kuiper Belt Object for the New Horizons spacecraft to visit after its 2015 Pluto flyby. Last October, at the annual American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences meeting, I gave a talk about this neat little object we discovered. Now that the paper is out, I thought it might be interesting and fun to assemble a blog post around the slides I prepared for that talk. So without further ado, I give you:
So, what kind of serendipitous discovery did we make? We found a Neptune Trojan, now called 2011 HM102! And it's not just any Neptune Trojan: it makes a list of superlatives. It's the largest trailing Trojan known in the entire Solar System, it's the most inclined Neptune Trojan known, and (as of right now) it is the closest known object of any kind to the New Horizons spacecraft! Read on to learn about how we found 2011 HM102 and what we have learned about this remarkable little world.