I'm going to keep it simple, so I can maybe get an answer. Can you have two habitable terrestrial sized moons of a gas giant or brown dwarf in a stable horseshoe orbit (50+ million years) that is also eccentric (eccentricity of maybe .2-.4)? If so, what is the limit of how eccentric the orbits can be, and if not, why not? If so, does this effect the formation of other things like rings or additional moons and how so? As a side note, it doesn't matter how the system came to be for what I'm wanting, just so long as it can feasibly stay stable for the allotted period.

I have already reviewed the closest post to this here (Two planets in a stable horseshoe orbit?), and was not able to extrapolate a satisfactory answer. Because of the nature of how the questions here were proposed, no one answered the more general questions, and tailored their answers specifically to the defined perameters of the asker. The person who got the most up votes even assumed a near zero eccentricity without explaining or answering the question because it was buried in a wall of text. Also, the most viable answer to that question was limited by the habitable zone of a star, whereas the only limits of my system is the outer limit of a satellite orbiting the much less massive body of a large gas giant or brown dwarf (the hill sphere).

A video here (https://youtu.be/Evq7n2cCTlg) explains a lot of the horseshoe orbit, and conceptualizes what I want, but it says that the eccentricity must be low at one point, but it doesn't explain why.

  • $\begingroup$ I tried to delete my original question, so hopefully this one meets the criteria better. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to know why I'm asking this question, it is so that I can quantify having a higher spin orbit resonance than 1:1 (tidal lock) in this type of system similar to mercury with its 3:2 resonance. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ You do realise that a horseshoe orbit is in fact an optical illusion depending entirely on your point-of-view? $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ Do note that these earth-like moons that I am proposing will not have satellites of their own. And yes, I am fully aware of the actual mechanics of a horseshoe orbit in that the moons don't actually orbit in horseshoes, but rather appear to be in relation to their primary. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash I read into that post, and the post itself was very specific to the asker's questions and circumstances, and people didn't address the general nature of orbit eccentricity, and rather tried to run with numbers close to that proposed by the asker, and whether their scenario was viable. I'm just asking if eccentric orbits in general are possible with horseshoe orbits, and if so what are the limiters, and if not, why. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 18:51


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