In 1961, Polish astronomer, Kazimierz Kordylewski, thought he saw hints of a faint dust cloud in a region about an equal distance from Earth as The Moon. The cloud was so faint it was, however, that it was nearly impossible to prove that it was really there.
That is, until very recently. A team of Hungarian scientists, working from a private observatory in Badacsonytördemic, Hungary, believe that they have confirmed the existence of not only that cloud, but another as well. The clouds were found in a region of relative gravitational stability, about 400,000 KM from Earth, known as Lagrange points L4 and L5. A Lagrange point is an area in space that is affected by the gravitational force of two large objects (in this case Earth and The Moon). Of the five Lagrange points, L4 and L5 are the most stable, allowing objects to accumulate there, if only temporarily. These points orbit Earth ahead of The Moon forming a rough equilateral triangle.
How Did They Find Them?
The team took long exposures of the areas Kordylewski originally theorised the cloud would be and analysed the light being reflected. They found that light was reflecting from dust at point L5 and L4. Their findings matched with Kordylewski’s and also the findings of a paper the group of researchers had previously written.
What Effects Does This Have on us?
More than you might imagine. Not only is it very cool that we may have found what Judit Sliz-Balogh calls “dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbour” and also confirmed a nearly 60-year-old theory, it may also have further benefits. Lagrange points like these can be used as sights for orbiting space probes and as transfer stations for missions exploring the wider solar system. Others have pointed out the potential for these sites to be used as a kind of dumping ground for the vast amount of space-junk already stuck in our orbit.