Formation of the wide asynchronous binary asteroid population

Seth A. Jacobson, Daniel J. Scheeres, Jay McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

We propose and analyze a new mechanism for the formation of the wide asynchronous binary population. These binary asteroids have wide semimajor axes relative to most near-Earth and main belt asteroid systems. Confirmed members have rapidly rotating primaries and satellites that are not tidally locked. Previously suggested formation mechanisms from impact ejecta, from planetary flybys, and directly from rotational fission events cannot satisfy all of the observations. The newly hypothesized mechanism works as follows: (1) these systems are formed from rotational fission, (2) their satellites are tidally locked, (3) their orbits are expanded by the binary Yarkovsky-O'Keefe- Radzievskii-Paddack (BYORP) effect, (4) their satellites desynchronize as a result of the adiabatic invariance between the libration of the secondary and the mutual orbit, and (5) the secondary avoids resynchronization because of the YORP effect. This seemingly complex chain of events is a natural pathway for binaries with satellites that have particular shapes, which define the BYORP effect torque that acts on the system. After detailing the theory, we analyze each of the wide asynchronous binary members and candidates to assess their most likely formation mechanism. Finally, we suggest possible future observations to check and constrain our hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume780
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • celestial mechanics
  • minor planets, asteroids: general
  • minor planets, asteroids: individual (317 Roxane, 1509 Esclangona, 1717 Arlon, 4674 Pauling, 17246, 22899, 32039, 51356, 1998 ST27)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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