Browsing by Subject "minor planets, asteroids: general"

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  • Novakovic, Bojan; Tsirvoulis, Georgios; Granvik, Mikael; Todovic, Ana (2017)
    We report the discovery of a new asteroid family among the dark asteroids residing in the Phocaea region the Tamara family. We make use of available physical data to separate asteroids in the region according to their surface reflectance properties, and establish the membership of the family. We determine the slope of the cumulative magnitude distribution of the family, and find it to be significantly steeper than the corresponding slope of all the asteroids in the Phocaea region. This implies that subkilometer dark Phocaeas are comparable in number to bright S-type objects, shedding light on an entirely new aspect of the composition of small Phocaea asteroids. We then use the Yarkovsky V-shape based method and estimate the age of the family to be 264 +/- 43Myr. Finally, we carry out numerical simulations of the dynamical evolution of the Tamara family. The results suggest that up to 50 Tamara members with absolute magnitude H <19.4 may currently be found in the near-Earth region. Despite their relatively small number in the near-Earth space, the rate of Earth impacts by small, dark Phocaeas is non-negligible.
  • Ye, Quanzhi; Granvik, Mikael (2019)
    The under-abundance of asteroids on orbits with small perihelion distances suggests that thermally driven disruption may be an important process in the removal of rocky bodies in the solar system. Here we report our study of how the debris streams arise from possible thermally driven disruptions in the near-Sun region. We calculate that a small body with a diameter greater than or similar to 0.5 km can produce a sufficient amount of material to allow the detection of the debris at the Earth as meteor showers, and that bodies at such sizes thermally disrupt every similar to 2 kyr. We also find that objects from the inner parts of the asteroid belt are more likely to become Sun-approachers than those from the outer parts. We simulate the formation and evolution of the debris streams produced from a set of synthetic disrupting asteroids drawn from Granvik et al.'s near-Earth object population model, and find that they evolve 10-70 times faster than streams produced at ordinary solar distances. We compare the simulation results to a catalog of known meteor showers on Sun-approaching orbits. We show that there is a clear overabundance of Sun-approaching meteor showers, which is best explained by a combining effect of comet contamination and an extended disintegration phase that lasts up to a few thousand years. We suggest that a few asteroid-like Sun-approaching objects that brighten significantly at their perihelion passages could, in fact, be disrupting asteroids. An extended period of thermal disruption may also explain the widespread detection of transiting debris in exoplanetary systems.
  • Kohout, T.; Petrova, E.; Yakovlev, G. A.; Grokhovsky, V.; Penttilä, A.; Maturilli, A.; Moreau, J-G; Berzin, S.; Wasiljeff, J.; Danilenko, I. A.; Zamyatin, D. A.; Muftakhetdinova, R. F.; Heikkilä, M. (2020)
    Context. Shock-induced changes in ordinary chondrite meteorites related to impacts or planetary collisions are known to be capable of altering their optical properties. Thus, one can hypothesize that a significant portion of the ordinary chondrite material may be hidden within the observed dark C/X asteroid population. Aims. The exact pressure-temperature conditions of the shock-induced darkening are not well constrained. Thus, we experimentally investigate the gradual changes in the chondrite material optical properties as a function of the shock pressure. Methods. A spherical shock experiment with Chelyabinsk LL5 was performed in order to study the changes in its optical properties. The spherical shock experiment geometry allows for a gradual increase of shock pressure from similar to 15 GPa at a rim toward hundreds of gigapascals in the center. Results. Four distinct zones were observed with an increasing shock load. The optical changes are minimal up to similar to 50 GPa. In the region of similar to 50-60 GPa, shock darkening occurs due to the troilite melt infusion into silicates. This process abruptly ceases at pressures of similar to 60 GPa due to an onset of silicate melting. At pressures higher than similar to 150 GPa, recrystallization occurs and is associated with a second-stage shock darkening due to fine troilite-metal eutectic grains. The shock darkening affects the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared region while changes to the MIR spectrum are minimal. Conclusions. Shock darkening is caused by two distinct mechanisms with characteristic pressure regions, which are separated by an interval where the darkening ceases. This implies a reduced amount of shock-darkened material produced during the asteroid collisions.
  • Gaia Collaboration; Spoto, F.; Muinonen, K.; Granvik, M.; Fedorets, G.; Siltala, L. (2018)
    Context. The Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been securing observations of solar system objects (SSOs) since the beginning of its operations. Data Release 2 (DR2) contains the observations of a selected sample of 14,099 SSOs. These asteroids have been already identified and have been numbered by the Minor Planet Center repository. Positions are provided for each Gaia observation at CCD level. As additional information, complementary to astrometry, the apparent brightness of SSOs in the unfiltered G band is also provided for selected observations. Aims. We explain the processing of SSO data, and describe the criteria we used to select the sample published in Gaia DR2. We then explore the data set to assess its quality. Methods. To exploit the main data product for the solar system in Gaia DR2, which is the epoch astrometry of asteroids, it is necessary to take into account the unusual properties of the uncertainty, as the position information is nearly one-dimensional. When this aspect is handled appropriately, an orbit fit can be obtained with post-fit residuals that are overall consistent with the a-priori error model that was used to define individual values of the astrometric uncertainty. The role of both random and systematic errors is described. The distribution of residuals allowed us to identify possible contaminants in the data set (such as stars). Photometry in the G band was compared to computed values from reference asteroid shapes and to the flux registered at the corresponding epochs by the red and blue photometers (RP and BP). Results. The overall astrometric performance is close to the expectations, with an optimal range of brightness G similar to 12 - 17. In this range, the typical transit-level accuracy is well below 1 mas. For fainter asteroids, the growing photon noise deteriorates the performance. Asteroids brighter than G similar to 12 are affected by a lower performance of the processing of their signals. The dramatic improvement brought by Gaia DR2 astrometry of SSOs is demonstrated by comparisons to the archive data and by preliminary tests on the detection of subtle non-gravitational effects.
  • Cellino, A.; Hestroffer, D.; Lu, X-P; Muinonen, K.; Tanga, P. (2019)
    Context. Sparse photometric data can be used to determine the spin properties and infer information about the shapes of asteroids. The algorithm adopted for the inversion of Gaia photometric data assumes, for the sake of simplicity and to minimize CPU execution time, that the objects have triaxial ellipsoid shapes. In the past, this algorithm was tested against large sets of simulated data and small numbers of sparse photometric measurements obtained by HIPPARCOS. Aims. After the second Gaia data release, it is now possible to test the inversion algorithm against small samples of actual Gaia data for the first time. At the same time, we can attempt a new inversion of older HIPPARCOS measurements, using an updated version of the photometric inversion algorithm. Methods. The new version of our inversion algorithm includes the treatment of a Lommel-Seeliger scattering relation especially developed for the case of triaxial ellipsoid shapes. In addition, we also performed inversion attempts using a more refined shape model, based on the so-called cellinoid shapes. Results. With respect to the old inversion of HIPPARCOS data carried out in the past, we obtain only marginal improvements. In the case of Gaia data, however, we obtain very encouraging results. A successful determination of the rotation period is possible in most cases, in spite of the limited time span covered by data published in the second Gaia data release (GDR2), which makes the determination of the spin axis direction still uncertain. Even a small number of measurements, less than 30 in many cases, are sufficient to obtain a satisfactory inversion solution. Using the more realistic cellinoid shape model, we find further improvement in the determination of the spin period. Conclusions. This is a relevant validation of GDR2 photometry of asteroids, and proof of the satisfactory performances of the adopted inversion algorithm.
  • Solin, Otto; Granvik, Mikael (2018)
    Aims. We present an automated system called neoranger that regularly computes asteroid-Earth impact probabilities for objects on the Minor Planet Center's (MPC) Near-Earth-Object Confirmation Page (NEOCP) and sends out alerts of imminent impactors to registered users. In addition to potential Earth-impacting objects, neoranger also monitors for other types of interesting objects such as Earth's natural temporarily-captured satellites. Methods. The system monitors the NEOCP for objects with new data and solves, for each object, the orbital inverse problem, which results in a sample of orbits that describes the, typically highly-nonlinear, orbital-element probability density function (PDF). The PDF is propagated forward in time for seven days and the impact probability is computed as the weighted fraction of the sample orbits that impact the Earth. Results. The system correctly predicts the then-imminent impacts of 2008 TC3 and 2014 Lambda Lambda based on the first data sets available. Using the same code and configuration we find that the impact probabilities for objects typically on the NEOCP, based on eight weeks of continuous operations, are always less than one in ten million, whereas simulated and real Earth-impacting asteroids always have an impact probability greater than 10% based on the first two tracklets available.
  • Fedorets, Grigori; Muinonen, Karri; Pauwels, Thierry; Granvik, Mikael; Tanga, Paolo; Virtanen, Jenni; Berthier, Jerome; Carry, Benoit; David, Pedro; Dell'Oro, Aldo; Mignard, Francois; Petit, Jean-Marc; Spoto, Federica; Thuillot, William (2018)
    Context. In addition to the systematic observations of known solar-system objects (SSOs), a continuous processing of new discoveries requiring fast responses is implemented as the short-term processing of Gaia SSO observations, providing alerts for ground-based follow-up observers. The common independent observation approach for the purposes of orbit computation has led to unrealistically large ephemeris prediction uncertainties when processing real Gaia data. Aims. We aim to provide ground-based observers with a cloud of sky positions that is shrunk to a fraction of the previously expected search area by making use of the characteristic features of Gaia astrometry. This enhances the efficiency of Gaia SSO follow-up network and leads to an increased rate of asteroid discoveries with reasonably constrained orbits with the help of ground-based follow-up observations of Gaia asteroids. Methods. We took advantage of the separation of positional errors of Gaia S SO observations into a random and systematic component. We treated the Gaia observations in an alternative way by collapsing up to ten observations that correspond to a single transit into a single so-called normal point. We implemented this input procedure in the Gaia S SO short-term processing pipeline and the OpenOrb software. Results. We validate our approach by performing extensive comparisons between the independent observation and normal point input methods and compare them to the observed positions of previously known asteroids. The new approach reduces the ephemeris uncertainty by a factor of between three and ten compared to the situation where each point is treated as a separate observation. Conclusions. Our new data treatment improves the sky prediction for the Gaia SSO observations by removing low-weight orbital solutions. These solutions originate from excessive curvature of observations, introduced by short-term variations of Gaia attitude on the one hand, and, as a main effect, shrinking of systematic error bars in the independent observation case on the other hand. We anticipate that a similar approach may also be utilized in a situation where observations from a single observatory dominate.
  • Harju, Jorma; Lehtinen, Kimmo; Romney, Jonathan; Petrov, Leonid; Granvik, Mikael; Muinonen, Karri; Bach, Uwe; Poutanen, Markku (2018)
    The occultation of the radio galaxy 0141+268 by the asteroid (372) Palma on 2017 May 15 was observed using six antennas of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The shadow of Palma crossed the VLBA station at Brewster, Washington. Owing to the wavelength used, and the size and the distance of the asteroid, a diffraction pattern in the Fraunhofer regime was observed. The measurement retrieves both the amplitude and the phase of the diffracted electromagnetic wave. This is the first astronomical measurement of the phase shift caused by diffraction. The maximum phase shift is sensitive to the effective diameter of the asteroid. The bright spot at the shadow's center, the so called Arago-Poisson spot, is clearly detected in the amplitude time-series, and its strength is a good indicator of the closest angular distance between the center of the asteroid and the radio source. A sample of random shapes constructed using a Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm suggests that the silhouette of Palma deviates from a perfect circle by 26 +/- 13%. The best-fitting random shapes resemble each other, and we suggest their average approximates the shape of the silhouette at the time of the occultation. The effective diameter obtained for Palma, 192.1 +/- 4.8 km, is in excellent agreement with recent estimates from thermal modeling of mid-infrared photometry. Finally, our computations show that because of the high positional accuracy, a single radio interferometric occultation measurement can reduce the long-term ephemeris uncertainty by an order of magnitude.
  • Gaia Collaboration; Brown, A. G. A.; Muinonen, K.; Fedorets, G.; Granvik, M.; Siltala, L. (2018)
    Context. We present the second Gaia data release, Gaia DR2, consisting of astrometry, photometry, radial velocities, and information on astrophysical parameters and variability, for sources brighter than magnitude 21. In addition epoch astrometry and photometry are provided for a modest sample of minor planets in the solar system. Aims. A summary of the contents of Gaia DR2 is presented, accompanied by a discussion on the differences with respect to Gaia DR1 and an overview of the main limitations which are still present in the survey. Recommendations are made on the responsible use of Gaia DR2 results. Methods. The raw data collected with the Gaia instruments during the first 22 months of the mission have been processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) and turned into this second data release, which represents a major advance with respect to Gaia DR1 in terms of completeness, performance, and richness of the data products. Results. Gaia DR2 contains celestial positions and the apparent brightness in G for approximately 1.7 billion sources. For 1.3 billion of those sources, parallaxes and proper motions are in addition available. The sample of sources for which variability information is provided is expanded to 0 : 5 million stars. This data release contains four new elements: broad-band colour information in the form of the apparent brightness in the G(BP) (330-680 nm) and G(RP) (630-1050 nm) bands is available for 1.4 billion sources; median radial velocities for some 7 million sources are presented; for between 77 and 161 million sources estimates are provided of the stellar effective temperature, extinction, reddening, and radius and luminosity; and for a pre-selected list of 14 000 minor planets in the solar system epoch astrometry and photometry are presented. Finally, Gaia DR2 also represents a new materialisation of the celestial reference frame in the optical, the Gaia-CRF2, which is the first optical reference frame based solely on extragalactic sources. There are notable changes in the photometric system and the catalogue source list with respect to Gaia DR1, and we stress the need to consider the two data releases as independent. Conclusions. Gaia DR2 represents a major achievement for the Gaia mission, delivering on the long standing promise to provide parallaxes and proper motions for over 1 billion stars, and representing a first step in the availability of complementary radial velocity and source astrophysical information for a sample of stars in the Gaia survey which covers a very substantial fraction of the volume of our galaxy.