List of minor planets
This is a list of numbered minor planets in the Solar System, in numerical order. As of March 2017[ref] there are 488,449 numbered minor planets, and 241,177 unnumbered. Only 20,570 or approximately 4% of all numbered minor planets are currently named, mostly for people and figures from mythology and fiction. The Jupiter trojan (3708) 1974 FV1 is currently the lowest-numbered unnamed minor planet. Minor planets also include dwarf planets of which 5 have been officially recognized by the IAU with potentially hundreds more to follow in the future.
For specific lists on physical, orbital and other properties, as well as on discovery circumstances and other aspects, see § Specific minor planet lists
- 1 Partial lists
- 2 Specific minor planet lists
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
The list of minor planets consists of nearly 500 partial lists, each containing 1000 minor planets grouped in 10 tables. The data is sourced from the Minor Planet Center (MPC). For an overview of all existing partial lists, see § Main index.
|Designation||Discovery||Discoverer(s)||Ref · Meaning|
|189001||4889 P-L||September 24, 1960||Palomar||C. J. van Houten, I. van Houten-Groeneveld, T. Gehrels||MPC · —|
|189002||6760 P-L||September 24, 1960||Palomar||C. J. van Houten, I. van Houten-Groeneveld, T. Gehrels||MPC · —|
|189003||3009 T-3||October 16, 1977||Palomar||C. J. van Houten, I. van Houten-Groeneveld, T. Gehrels||MPC · —|
|189004 Capys||3184 T-3||October 16, 1977||Palomar||C. J. van Houten, I. van Houten-Groeneveld, T. Gehrels||MPC · 189004|
|189005||5176 T-3||October 16, 1977||Palomar||C. J. van Houten, I. van Houten-Groeneveld, T. Gehrels||MPC · —|
The example above shows the beginning of the first table in partial list 189,001 to 190,000. It has the columns § Designation showing its permanent (number and name) and provisional designation, § Discovery, giving the date and location of its discovery, § Discoverers, people, surveys, programs and observatories that are officially credited with its discovery, and a reference column that externally links to the body's dedicated page at the Minor Planet Center's website and to the corresponding entry in Meanings of minor planet names (named minor planets only).
In this example, all 5 bodies were discovered at Palomar Observatory by a trio of astronomers: Cornelis van Houten, Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld and Tom Gehrels. The row's color represents a minor planet's orbital group—cyan is used for Jupiter trojans, while a white, light-grey and dark-grey color is used for asteroids of the inner, middle and outer regions of the asteroid belt, respectively. For more information, see § Orbital groups. As only 189004 Capys has been named yet, the other four bodies only display their number in the permanent designation column. The provisional designation displayed in this example is an uncommon survey designation.
- LINEAR: 147,523 (30.7%)
- Spacewatch: 129,357 (26.9%)
- Mt. Lemmon Surv.: 50,178 (10.4%)
- NEAT: 40,942 (8.5%)
- CSS: 25,370 (5.3%)
- LONEOS: 21,872 (4.5%)
- van Houtens + Gehrels: 4,625 (1.0%)
- Eric Walter Elst: 3,867 (0.8%)
- WISE: 2,978 (0.6%)
- Siding Spring Surv.: 2,727 (0.6%)
- All others: 51,367 (10.7%)
The MPC credits more than 1000 professional and amateur astronomers as discoverers of minor planets. Many of them have discovered only a few minor planets or even just co-discovered a single one. Moreover a discoverer does not need to be a human being. There are about 300 programs, surveys and observatories credited as discoverers. Among these, a small group of U.S. programs and surveys actually account for most of all discoveries made so far (see pie chart). As the total of numbered minor planets is growing by the thousands on a monthly basis, all statistical figures are constantly changing. Note that the MPC summarizes the total of discoveries somewhat differently (typically by distinct group of discoverers), for example, bodies discovered in the Palomar–Leiden Survey are directly credited to the trio of astronomers as displayed in the above table.
After discovery, minor planets generally receive a provisional designation, e.g. 1989 AC, then a leading sequential number in parenthesis, e.g. (4179) 1989 AC, turning it into a permanent designation (numbered minor planet). Optionally, a name can be given, replacing the provisional part of the designation, e.g. 4179 Toutatis. (Note that on Wikipedia, named minor planets also drop their parenthesis.)
In modern times, a minor planet receives a sequential number only after it has been observed several times over at least 4 oppositions. Minor planets whose orbits are not (yet) precisely known are known by their provisional designation. This rule was not necessarily followed in earlier times, and some bodies received a number but subsequently became lost minor planets. In 2000, 719 Albert was the last numbered asteroids to be recovered after having been lost for nearly 89 years.
Only after a number is assigned is the minor planet eligible to receive a name. Usually the discoverer has up to 10 years to pick a name; many minor planets remain unnamed. Especially towards the end of the twentieth century, with large-scale automated asteroid discovery programs such as LINEAR, the pace of discoveries has increased so much that it seems likely that the vast majority of minor planets will never receive names.
For the reasons mentioned above, the sequence of numbers only approximately matches the timeline of discovery. In extreme cases, such as lost minor planets, there may be a considerable mismatch: for instance the high-numbered 69230 Hermes was originally discovered in 1937, but it was a lost until 2003. Only after it was rediscovered could its orbit be established and a number assigned.
All observatories that officially are a site where minor planets are discovered have received a numeric or alphanumeric code such as 675 for the Palomar Observatory, or I41 for the Palomar Transient Factory, a dedicated survey that runs at Palomar Mountain.
In the partial lists, numbered minor planets (MPs) are categorized into one of 8 distinct orbital groups. These are the near-Earth asteroids, the Mars-crossing asteroids, the inner-, middle- and outer main-belt asteroids (MBA), the Jupiter trojans, the centaurs and the trans-Neptunian objects. A minor planet's orbital group is represented by the background color of the table row (see § Example). This classification is exclusively based on the body's relevant orbital elements, that is, its semi-major axis (a) and eccentricity (e). From these elements its perihelion (q) and aphelion (Q) can be derived.
|Colorized orbital group||MPs (#)||MPs (%)||Distribution||Orbital criteria|
||q < 1.3 AU|
|Mars-crosser||4,637||0.95%||1.3 AU < q < 1.666 AU; a < 3.2 AU|
|MBA (inner)||163,366||33.45%||a < 2.5 AU; q > 1.666 AU|
|MBA (middle)||170,693||34.95%||2.5 AU < a < 2.82 AU; q > 1.666 AU|
|MBA (outer)||142,286||29.13%||2.82 AU < a < 4.6 AU; q > 1.666 AU|
|Jupiter trojan||4,632||0.95%||4.6 AU < a < 5.5 AU; e < 0.3|
|Centaur||85||0.02%||5.5 AU < a < 30.1 AU|
|Trans-Neptunian object||338||0.07%||a > 30.1 AU|
|Total (numbered)||488,449(b)||100%||Source: JPL's SBDB|
- (a) NEOs can be further divided into Aten (203), Amor (976), Apollo (1,208) and Atira (6) asteroids
- (b) Including 19 unclassified bodies: 6144 Kondojiro, 8373 Stephengould, 9767 Midsomer Norton, (18916) 2000 OG44, (32511) 2001 NX17, (96177) 1984 BC, (115916) 2003 WB8, (136620) 1994 JC, (144870) 2004 MA8, (241944) 2002 CU147, (275618) 2000 AU242, (301964) 2000 EJ37, (306418) 1998 KK56, (322713) 2000 KD41, (333311) 2001 MR3, (363135) 2001 QQ199, (405058) 2001 TX16, (477587) 2010 JT86, (487496) 2014 SE288 (colored as for being unclassified).
The vast majority of numbered minor planets are from the asteroid belt. Approximately 97.5% are evenly distributed between the inner-, middle and outer asteroid belt, which are separated by the two Kirkwood gaps at 2.5 and 2.82 AU. They are followed by the Jupiter trojans, Mars-crossers and near-Earth asteroids, which account for less than 1% of the overall population each. Only a small number of centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects have been numbered so far.
With the exception of using 2.5–2.82 AU for main belt asteroids of the middle region, and adding the orbital criteria of q > 1.666 AU for outer MBAs, the above table agrees with the definitions given at JPL's SBDB. There are a few minor planets that remain unclassified based on the defined orbital criteria. Five of these bodies have a semi-major axis too large to be an outer main-belt asteroid, and an orbit too eccentric to be classified as a Jupiter trojan (JPL classifies these bodies simply as "asteroids", while the MPC, which never distinguishes between inner, outer and middle MBAs, classifies them as "main-belt asteroids"). The others are Mars-crossers (as per MPC) with (mostly) an semi-major axis of that of an outer-MBA (as per JPL).
This is an overview of all existing partial lists of numbered minor planets. Each table stands for 100,000 minor planets, each cell for a specific partial list of 1,000 sequentially numbered bodies. For an introduction, see § top
Specific minor planet lists
The following are lists of minor planets by physical properties, orbital properties, or discovery circumstances: selves into a sphere.
- List of exceptional asteroids (physical properties)
- List of instrument-resolved minor planets
- List of Jupiter trojans (Greek camp)
- List of Jupiter trojans (Trojan camp)
- List of minor planets visited by spacecraft
- List of minor planet moons
- List of minor-planet groups
- List of named minor planets (alphabetical)
- List of named minor planets (numerical)
- List of exceptional asteroids
- List of possible dwarf planets
- List of trans-Neptunian objects
- List of unnumbered minor planets (about 33% of minor planets as of March 2017)
- Meanings of minor planet names
- Binary asteroid
- Dwarf planets – Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake
- Kuiper belt
- Minor-planet moon
- Trans-Neptunian object
- Other lists
- "Minor Planet Statistics – Orbits And Names". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (1)-(5000)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Small-Body Orbital Elements "Numbered Asteroids (50 MB)", JPL
- An opposition is the time when a body is at its furthest apparent point from the Sun, and in this case is defined as the time when an asteroid is far enough from the Sun to be observed from the Earth. In most cases, this is about 4 to 6 months a year. Some notable minor planets are exceptions to this rule, such as 367943 Duende.
- Cowen, Ron (1 November 2002). "Astronomers Rediscover Long-Lost Asteroid". Science News. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
- Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, 5th ed.: Prepared on Behalf of Commission 20 Under the Auspices of the International Astronomical Union, Lutz D. Schmadel, ISBN 3-540-00238-3
- The Names of the Minor Planets, Paul Herget, 1968, OCLC 224288991
- NASA Near Earth Object Program
- PDS Asteroid Data Archive
- SBN Small Bodies Data Archive
- JPL Minor Planet Database for physical and orbital data (of any Small Solar System Body or dwarf planet)
- on YouTube (min. 3:13)
- Minor Planet Center