The binary near-Earth Asteroid (175706) 1996 FG3 - An observational constraint on its orbital evolution

P. Scheirich*, P. Pravec, S. A. Jacobson, J. Ďurech, P. Kušnirák, K. Hornoch, S. Mottola, M. Mommert, S. Hellmich, D. Pray, D. Polishook, Yu N. Krugly, R. Ya Inasaridze, O. I. Kvaratskhelia, V. Ayvazian, I. Slyusarev, J. Pittichová, E. Jehin, J. Manfroid, M. GillonA. Galád, J. Pollock, J. Licandro, V. Alí-Lagoa, J. Brinsfield, I. E. Molotov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Using our photometric observations taken between April 1996 and January 2013 and other published data, we derived properties of the binary near-Earth Asteroid (175706) 1996 FG3 including new measurements constraining evolution of the mutual orbit with potential consequences for the entire binary asteroid population. We also refined previously determined values of parameters of both components, making 1996 FG3 one of the most well understood binary asteroid systems. With our 17-year long dataset, we determined the orbital vector with a substantially greater accuracy than before and we also placed constraints on a stability of the orbit. Specifically, the ecliptic longitude and latitude of the orbital pole are 266° and -83°, respectively, with the mean radius of the uncertainty area of 4°, and the orbital period is 16.1508±0.0002h (all quoted uncertainties correspond to 3σ). We looked for a quadratic drift of the mean anomaly of the satellite and obtained a value of 0.04±0.20deg/yr2, i.e., consistent with zero. The drift is substantially lower than predicted by the pure binary YORP (BYORP) theory of McMahon and Scheeres (McMahon, J., Scheeres, D. [2010]. Icarus 209, 494-509) and it is consistent with the tigidity and quality factor of μQ=1.3×107Pa using the theory that assumes an elastic response of the asteroid material to the tidal forces. This very low value indicates that the primary of 1996 FG3 is a 'rubble pile', and it also calls for a re-thinking of the tidal energy dissipation in close asteroid binary systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-63
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Asteroids, dynamics
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Photometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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