Asteroid systems: Binaries, triples, and Pairs

Jean Luc Margot, Petr Pravec, Patrick Taylor, Benoît Carry, Seth Jacobson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

94 Scopus citations


In the past decade, the number of known binary near-Earth asteroids has more than quadrupled and the number of known large main-belt asteroids with satellites has doubled. Half a dozen triple asteroids have been discovered, and the previously unrecognized populations of asteroid pairs and small main-belt binaries have been identified. The current observational evidence confirms that small (≤20 km) binaries form by rotational fission and establishes that the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect powers the spin-up process. A unifying paradigm based on rotational fission and post-fission dynamics can explain the formation of small binaries, triples, and pairs. Large (≥20 km) binaries with small satellites are most likely created during large collisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAsteroids IV
PublisherUniversity of Arizona Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780816532186
ISBN (Print)9780816532131
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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