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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 7, 2023
  3. Aims. To interpret adaptive-optics observations of (216) Kleopatra, we need to describe an evolution of multiple moons orbiting an extremely irregular body and include their mutual interactions. Such orbits are generally non-Keplerian and orbital elements are not constants. Methods. Consequently, we used a modified N -body integrator, which was significantly extended to include the multipole expansion of the gravitational field up to the order ℓ = 10. Its convergence was verified against the ‘brute-force’ algorithm. We computed the coefficients C ℓm , S ℓm for Kleopatra’s shape, assuming a constant bulk density. For Solar System applications, it was also necessarymore »to implement a variable distance and geometry of observations. Our χ 2 metric then accounts for the absolute astrometry, the relative astrometry (second moon with respect to the first), angular velocities, and silhouettes, constraining the pole orientation. This allowed us to derive the orbital elements of Kleopatra’s two moons. Results. Using both archival astrometric data and new VLT/SPHERE observations (ESO LP 199.C-0074), we were able to identify the true periods of the moons, P 1 = (1.822359 ± 0.004156) d, P 2 = (2.745820 ± 0.004820) d. They orbit very close to the 3:2 mean-motion resonance, but their osculating eccentricities are too small compared to other perturbations (multipole, mutual), meaning that regular librations of the critical argument are not present. The resulting mass of Kleopatra, m 1 = (1.49 ± 0.16) × 10 −12 M ⊙ or 2.97 × 10 18 kg, is significantly lower than previously thought. An implication explained in the accompanying paper is that (216) Kleopatra is a critically rotating body.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2022
  4. Context. The recent estimates of the 3D shape of the M/Xe-type triple asteroid system (216) Kleopatra indicated a density of ~5 g cm −3 , which is by far the highest for a small Solar System body. Such a high density implies a high metal content as well as a low porosity which is not easy to reconcile with its peculiar “dumbbell” shape. Aims. Given the unprecedented angular resolution of the VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL camera, here, we aim to constrain the mass (via the characterization of the orbits of the moons) and the shape of (216) Kleopatra with high accuracy, hence itsmore »density. Methods. We combined our new VLT/SPHERE observations of (216) Kleopatra recorded during two apparitions in 2017 and 2018 with archival data from the W. M. Keck Observatory, as well as lightcurve, occultation, and delay-Doppler images, to derive a model of its 3D shape using two different algorithms (ADAM, MPCD). Furthermore, an N -body dynamical model allowed us to retrieve the orbital elements of the two moons as explained in the accompanying paper. Results. The shape of (216) Kleopatra is very close to an equilibrium dumbbell figure with two lobes and a thick neck. Its volume equivalent diameter (118.75 ± 1.40) km and mass (2.97 ± 0.32) × 10 18 kg (i.e., 56% lower than previously reported) imply a bulk density of (3.38 ± 0.50) g cm −3 . Such a low density for a supposedly metal-rich body indicates a substantial porosity within the primary. This porous structure along with its near equilibrium shape is compatible with a formation scenario including a giant impact followed by reaccumulation. (216) Kleopatra’s current rotation period and dumbbell shape imply that it is in a critically rotating state. The low effective gravity along the equator of the body, together with the equatorial orbits of the moons and possibly rubble-pile structure, opens the possibility that the moons formed via mass shedding. Conclusions. (216) Kleopatra is a puzzling multiple system due to the unique characteristics of the primary. This system certainly deserves particular attention in the future, with the Extremely Large Telescopes and possibly a dedicated space mission, to decipher its entire formation history.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2022
  5. Context. Dynamical models of Solar System evolution have suggested that the so-called P- and D-type volatile-rich asteroids formed in the outer Solar System beyond Neptune’s orbit and may be genetically related to the Jupiter Trojans, comets, and small Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). Indeed, the spectral properties of P- and D-type asteroids resemble that of anhydrous cometary dust. Aims. We aim to gain insights into the above classes of bodies by characterizing the internal structure of a large P- and D-type asteroid. Methods. We report high-angular-resolution imaging observations of the P-type asteroid (87) Sylvia with the Very Large Telescope Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrastmore »Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument. These images were used to reconstruct the 3D shape of Sylvia. Our images together with those obtained in the past with large ground-based telescopes were used to study the dynamics of its two satellites. We also modeled Sylvia’s thermal evolution. Results. The shape of Sylvia appears flattened and elongated (a/b ~1.45; a/c ~1.84). We derive a volume-equivalent diameter of 271 ± 5 km and a low density of 1378 ± 45 kg m −3 . The two satellites orbit Sylvia on circular, equatorial orbits. The oblateness of Sylvia should imply a detectable nodal precession which contrasts with the fully-Keplerian dynamics of its two satellites. This reveals an inhomogeneous internal structure, suggesting that Sylvia is differentiated. Conclusions. Sylvia’s low density and differentiated interior can be explained by partial melting and mass redistribution through water percolation. The outer shell should be composed of material similar to interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) and the core should be similar to aqueously altered IDPs or carbonaceous chondrite meteorites such as the Tagish Lake meteorite. Numerical simulations of the thermal evolution of Sylvia show that for a body of such a size, partial melting was unavoidable due to the decay of long-lived radionuclides. In addition, we show that bodies as small as 130–150 km in diameter should have followed a similar thermal evolution, while smaller objects, such as comets and the KBO Arrokoth, must have remained pristine, which is in agreement with in situ observations of these bodies. NASA Lucy mission target (617) Patroclus (diameter ≈140 km) may, however, be differentiated.« less