Optical Spectroscopy of Unbound Asteroid Pairs

Samuel Duddy, S. C. Lowry, A. Christou, S. D. Wolters, C. Snodgrass, A. Fitzsimmons, J. F. Deller, O. R. Hainaut, B. Rozitis, P. R. Weissman, S. F. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


The recently discovered unbound asteroid pairs have been suggested to be the result of the decoupling of binary asteroids formed either through collision processes or, more likely, rotational fission of a rubble-pile asteroid after spin-up (Vokrouhlicky et al. 2008, AJ 136, 280; Pravec et al., 2010, Nature, 466, 1085). Much of the evidence for linkage of the asteroids in each pair relies solely on the backwards integrations of their orbits. We report new results from our continuing spectroscopic survey of the unbound asteroid pairs, including the youngest known pair, (6070) Rhineland - (54827) 2001 NQ8. The survey goal is to determine whether the asteroids in each unbound pair have similar spectra and therefore composition, expected if they have formed from a common parent body. Low-resolution spectroscopy covering the range 0.4-0.95 microns was conducted using the 3.6m ESO NTT+EFOSC2 during 2011-2012 and the 4.2m WHT+ACAM. We have attempted to maintain a high level of consistency between the observations of the components in each pair to ensure that differences in the asteroid spectra are not the result of the observing method or data reduction, but purely caused by compositional differences. Our WHT data indicates that the asteroids of unbound pair 17198 - 229056 exhibit different spectra and have been assigned different taxonomies, A and R respectively. Initial analysis of our data from the NTT suggests that the asteroids in unbound pairs 6070 - 54827 and 38707 - 32957 are likely silicate-dominated asteroids. The components of pair 23998 - 205383 are potentially X-type asteroids. We present final taxonomic classifications and the likelihood of spectral similarity in each pair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78
Number of pages1
JournalBulletin of the American Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2012


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