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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Context. Young giant planets and brown dwarf companions emit near-infrared radiation that can be linearly polarized up to several percent. This polarization can reveal the presence of an (unresolved) circumsubstellar accretion disk, rotation-induced oblateness of the atmosphere, or an inhomogeneous distribution of atmospheric dust clouds. Aims. We aim to measure the near-infrared linear polarization of 20 known directly imaged exoplanets and brown dwarf companions. Methods. We observed the companions with the high-contrast imaging polarimeter SPHERE-IRDIS at the Very Large Telescope. We reduced the data using the IRDAP pipeline to correct for the instrumental polarization and crosstalk of the optical systemmore »with an absolute polarimetric accuracy <0.1% in the degree of polarization. We employed aperture photometry, angular differential imaging, and point-spread-function fitting to retrieve the polarization of the companions. Results. We report the first detection of polarization originating from substellar companions, with a polarization of several tenths of a percent for DH Tau B and GSC 6214-210 B in H -band. By comparing the measured polarization with that of nearby stars, we find that the polarization is unlikely to be caused by interstellar dust. Because the companions have previously measured hydrogen emission lines and red colors, the polarization most likely originates from circumsubstellar disks. Through radiative transfer modeling, we constrain the position angles of the disks and find that the disks must have high inclinations. For the 18 other companions, we do not detect significant polarization and place subpercent upper limits on their degree of polarization. We also present images of the circumstellar disks of DH Tau, GQ Lup, PDS 70, β Pic, and HD 106906. We detect a highly asymmetric disk around GQ Lup and find evidence for multiple scattering in the disk of PDS 70. Both disks show spiral-like features that are potentially induced by GQ Lup B and PDS 70 b, respectively. Conclusions. The presence of the disks around DH Tau B and GSC 6214-210 B as well as the misalignment of the disk of DH Tau B with the disk around its primary star suggest in situ formation of the companions. The non-detections of polarization for the other companions may indicate the absence of circumsubstellar disks, a slow rotation rate of young companions, the upper atmospheres containing primarily submicron-sized dust grains, and/or limited cloud inhomogeneity.« less
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Context. Asteroid (16) Psyche is the largest M-type asteroid in the main belt and the target of the NASA Psyche mission. It is also the only asteroid of this size ( D  >  200 km) known to be metal rich. Although various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the rather unique physical properties of this asteroid, a perfect understanding of its formation and bulk composition is still missing. Aims. We aim to refine the shape and bulk density of (16) Psyche and to perform a thorough analysis of its shape to better constrain possible formation scenarios and the structure ofmore »its interior. Methods. We obtained disk-resolved VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL images acquired within our ESO large program (ID 199.C-0074), which complement similar data obtained in 2018. Both data sets offer a complete coverage of Psyche’s surface. These images were used to reconstruct the three-dimensional (3D) shape of Psyche with two independent shape modeling algorithms ( MPCD and ADAM ). A shape analysis was subsequently performed, including a comparison with equilibrium figures and the identification of mass deficit regions. Results. Our 3D shape along with existing mass estimates imply a density of 4.20  ±  0.60 g cm −3 , which is so far the highest for a solar system object following the four telluric planets. Furthermore, the shape of Psyche presents small deviations from an ellipsoid, that is, prominently three large depressions along its equator. The flatness and density of Psyche are compatible with a formation at hydrostatic equilibrium as a Jacobi ellipsoid with a shorter rotation period of ∼3h. Later impacts may have slowed down Psyche’s rotation, which is currently ∼4.2 h, while also creating the imaged depressions. Conclusions. Our results open the possibility that Psyche acquired its primordial shape either after a giant impact while its interior was already frozen or while its interior was still molten owing to the decay of the short-lived radionuclide 26 Al.« less
  8. 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 ) shapemore »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 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