skip to main content

Title: The shape of (7) Iris as evidence of an ancient large impact?
Context. Asteroid (7) Iris is an ideal target for disk-resolved imaging owing to its brightness ( V ~ 7–8) and large angular size of 0.33′′ during its apparitions. Iris is believed to belong to the category of large unfragmented asteroids that avoided internal differentiation, implying that its current shape and topography may record the first few 100 Myr of the solar system’s collisional evolution. Aims. We recovered information about the shape and surface topography of Iris from disk-resolved VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL images acquired in the frame of our ESO large program. Methods. We used the All-Data Asteroid Modeling ( ADAM ) shape reconstruction algorithm to model the 3D shape of Iris, using optical disk-integrated data and disk-resolved images from SPHERE and earlier AO systems as inputs. We analyzed the SPHERE images and our model to infer the asteroid’s global shape and the morphology of its main craters. Results. We present the 3D shape, volume-equivalent diameter D eq = 214 ± 5 km, and bulk density ρ = 2.7 ± 0.3 g cm −3 of Iris. Its shape appears to be consistent with that of an oblate spheroid with a large equatorial excavation. We identified eight putative surface features 20–40 km in diameter more » detected at several epochs, which we interpret as impact craters, and several additional crater candidates. Craters on Iris have depth-to-diameter ratios that are similar to those of analogous 10 km craters on Vesta. Conclusions. The bulk density of Iris is consistent with that of its meteoritic analog based on spectroscopic observations, namely LL ordinary chondrites. Considering the absence of a collisional family related to Iris and the number of large craters on its surface, we suggest that its equatorial depression may be the remnant of an ancient (at least 3 Gyr) impact. Iris’s shape further opens the possibility that large planetesimals formed as almost perfect oblate spheroids. Finally, we attribute the difference in crater morphology between Iris and Vesta to their different surface gravities, and the absence of a substantial impact-induced regolith on Iris. « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Context. The vast majority of the geophysical and geological constraints (e.g., internal structure, cratering history) for main-belt asteroids have so far been obtained via dedicated interplanetary missions (e.g., ESA Rosetta, NASA Dawn). The high angular resolution of SPHERE/ZIMPOL, the new-generation visible adaptive-optics camera at ESO VLT, implies that these science objectives can now be investigated from the ground for a large fraction of D ≥ 100 km main-belt asteroids. The sharp images acquired by this instrument can be used to accurately constrain the shape and thus volume of these bodies (hence density when combined with mass estimates) and to characterizemore »the distribution and topography of D ≥ 30 km craters across their surfaces. Aims. Here, via several complementary approaches, we evaluated the recently proposed hypothesis that the S-type asteroid (89) Julia is the parent body of a small compact asteroid family that formed via a cratering collisional event. Methods. We observed (89) Julia with VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL throughout its rotation, derived its 3D shape, and performed a reconnaissance and characterization of the largest craters. We also performed numerical simulations to first confirm the existence of the Julia family and to determine its age and the size of the impact crater at its origin. Finally, we utilized the images/3D shape in an attempt to identify the origin location of the small collisional family. Results. On the one hand, our VLT/SPHERE observations reveal the presence of a large crater ( D ~ 75 km) in Julia’s southern hemisphere. On the other hand, our numerical simulations suggest that (89) Julia was impacted 30–120 Myrs ago by a D ~ 8 km asteroid, thereby creating a D ≥ 60 km impact crater at the surface of Julia. Given the small size of the impactor, the obliquity of Julia and the particular orientation of the family in the (a,i) space, the imaged impact crater is likely to be the origin of the family. Conclusions. New doors into ground-based asteroid exploration, namely, geophysics and geology, are being opened thanks to the unique capabilities of VLT/SPHERE. Also, the present work may represent the beginning of a new era of asteroid-family studies. In the fields of geophysics, geology, and asteroid family studies, the future will only get brighter with the forthcoming arrival of 30–40 m class telescopes like ELT, TMT, and GMT.« less
  2. ABSTRACT High angular resolution disc-resolved images of (7) Iris collected by VLT/SPHERE instrument are allowed for the detailed shape modelling of this large asteroid revealing its surface features. If (7) Iris did not suffer any events catastrophic enough to disrupt the body (which is very likely) by studying its topography, we might get insights into the early Solar system’s collisional history. When it comes to internal structure and composition, thoroughly assessing the volume and density uncertainties is necessary. In this work, we propose a method of uncertainty calculation of asteroid shape models based on light curve and adaptive optics (AO) images. Wemore »apply this method on four models of (7) Iris produced from independent Shaping Asteroids using Genetic Evolution and All-Data Asteroid Modelling inversion techniques and multiresolution photoclinometry by deformation. Obtained diameter uncertainties stem from both the observations from which the models were scaled and the models themselves. We show that despite the availability of high-resolution AO images, the volume and density of (7) Iris have substantial error bars that were underestimated in the previous studies.« less
  3. Aims. Asteroid (31) Euphrosyne is one of the biggest objects in the asteroid main belt and it is also the largest member of its namesake family. The Euphrosyne family occupies a highly inclined region in the outer main belt and contains a remarkably large number of members, which is interpreted as an outcome of a disruptive cratering event. Methods. The goals of this adaptive-optics imaging study are threefold: to characterize the shape of Euphrosyne, to constrain its density, and to search for the large craters that may be associated with the family formation event. Results. We obtained disk-resolved images ofmore »Euphrosyne using SPHERE/ZIMPOL at the ESO 8.2 m VLT as part of our large program (ID: 199.C-0074, PI: Vernazza). We reconstructed its 3D shape via the ADAM shape modeling algorithm based on the SPHERE images and the available light curves of this asteroid. We analyzed the dynamics of the satellite with the Genoid meta-heuristic algorithm. Finally, we studied the shape of Euphrosyne using hydrostatic equilibrium models. Conclusions. Our SPHERE observations show that Euphrosyne has a nearly spherical shape with the sphericity index of 0.9888 and its surface lacks large impact craters. Euphrosyne’s diameter is 268 ± 6 km, making it one of the top ten largest main belt asteroids. We detected a satellite of Euphrosyne – S/2019 (31) 1 – that is about 4 km across, on a circular orbit. The mass determined from the orbit of the satellite together with the volume computed from the shape model imply a density of 1665 ± 242 kg m −3 , suggesting that Euphrosyne probably contains a large fraction of water ice in its interior. We find that the spherical shape of Euphrosyne is a result of the reaccumulation process following the impact, as in the case of (10) Hygiea. However, our shape analysis reveals that, contrary to Hygiea, the axis ratios of Euphrosyne significantly differ from those suggested by fluid hydrostatic equilibrium following reaccumulation.« less
  4. Context. With an estimated diameter in the 320–350 km range, (704) Interamnia is the fifth largest main belt asteroid and one of the few bodies that fills the gap in size between the four largest bodies with D > 400 km (Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and Hygiea) and the numerous smaller bodies with diameter ≤200 km. However, despite its large size, little is known about the shape and spin state of Interamnia and, therefore, about its bulk composition and past collisional evolution. Aims. We aimed to test at what size and mass the shape of a small body departs from amore »nearly ellipsoidal equilibrium shape (as observed in the case of the four largest asteroids) to an irregular shape as routinely observed in the case of smaller ( D ≤ 200 km) bodies. Methods. We observed Interamnia as part of our ESO VLT/SPHERE large program (ID: 199.C-0074) at thirteen different epochs. In addition, several new optical lightcurves were recorded. These data, along with stellar occultation data from the literature, were fed to the All-Data Asteroid Modeling algorithm to reconstruct the 3D-shape model of Interamnia and to determine its spin state. Results. Interamnia’s volume-equivalent diameter of 332 ± 6 km implies a bulk density of ρ = 1.98 ± 0.68 g cm −3 , which suggests that Interamnia – like Ceres and Hygiea – contains a high fraction of water ice, consistent with the paucity of apparent craters. Our observations reveal a shape that can be well approximated by an ellipsoid, and that is compatible with a fluid hydrostatic equilibrium at the 2 σ level. Conclusions. The rather regular shape of Interamnia implies that the size and mass limit, under which the shapes of minor bodies with a high amount of water ice in the subsurface become irregular, has to be searched among smaller ( D ≤ 300 km) less massive ( m ≤ 3 × 10 19 kg) bodies.« less
  5. Context. Over the past decades, several interplanetary missions have studied small bodies in situ, leading to major advances in our understanding of their geological and geophysical properties. These missions, however, have had a limited number of targets. Among them, the NASA Dawn mission has characterised in detail the topography and albedo variegation across the surface of asteroid (4) Vesta down to a spatial resolution of ~20 m pixel −1 scale. Aims. Here our aim was to determine how much topographic and albedo information can be retrieved from the ground with VLT/SPHERE in the case of Vesta, having a former spacemore »mission (Dawn) providing us with the ground truth that can be used as a benchmark. Methods. We observed Vesta with VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL as part of our ESO large programme (ID 199.C-0074) at six different epochs, and deconvolved the collected images with a parametric point spread function (PSF). We then compared our images with synthetic views of Vesta generated from the 3D shape model of the Dawn mission, on which we projected Vesta’s albedo information. Results. We show that the deconvolution of the VLT/SPHERE images with a parametric PSF allows the retrieval of the main topographic and albedo features present across the surface of Vesta down to a spatial resolution of ~20–30 km. Contour extraction shows an accuracy of ~1 pixel (3.6 mas). The present study provides the very first quantitative estimate of the accuracy of ground-based adaptive-optics imaging observations of asteroid surfaces. Conclusions. In the case of Vesta, the upcoming generation of 30–40 m telescopes (ELT, TMT, GMT) should in principle be able to resolve all of the main features present across its surface, including the troughs and the north–south crater dichotomy, provided that they operate at the diffraction limit.« less