Formation and evolution of binary asteroids

Kevin J. Walsh, Seth A. Jacobson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Satellites of asteroids have been discovered in nearly every known small-body population, and a remarkable aspect of the known satellites is the diversity of their properties. They tell a story of vast differences in formation and evolution mechanisms that act as a function of size, distance from the Sun, and the properties of their nebular environment at the beginning of solar system history and their dynamical environment over the next 4.5 G.y. The mere existence of these systems provides a laboratory to study numerous types of physical processes acting on asteroids, and their dynamics provide a valuable probe of their physical properties otherwise possible only with spacecraft. Advances in understanding the formation and evolution of binary systems have been assisted by (1) the growing catalog of known systems, increasing from 33 to ~250 between the Merline et al. (2002) chapter in Asteroids III and now; (2) the detailed study and long-term monitoring of individual systems such as 1999 KW4 and 1996 FG3, (3) the discovery of new binary system morphologies and triple systems, (4) and the discovery of unbound systems that appear to be end-states of binary dynamical evolutionary paths. Specifically for small bodies (diameter smaller than 10 km), these observations and discoveries have motivated theoretical work finding that thermal forces can efficiently drive the rotational disruption of small asteroids. Long-term monitoring has allowed studies to constrain the system’s dynamical evolution by the combination of tides, thermal forces, and rigid-body physics. The outliers and split pairs have pushed the theoretical work to explore a wide range of evolutionary end-states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAsteroids IV
PublisherUniversity of Arizona Press
Pages375-393
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780816532186
ISBN (Print)9780816532131
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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