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Pravec P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Scheirich P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Vokrouhlicky D.,Charles University | Harris A.W.,4603 Orange Knoll Avenue | And 43 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2012

Our photometric observations of 18 main-belt binary systems in more than one apparition revealed a strikingly high number of 15 having positively re-observed mutual events in the return apparitions. Our simulations of the survey showed that it cannot be due to an observational selection effect and that the data strongly suggest that poles of mutual orbits between components of binary asteroids in the primary size range 3-8. km are not distributed randomly: The null hypothesis of an isotropic distribution of the orbit poles is rejected at a confidence level greater than 99.99%. Binary orbit poles concentrate at high ecliptic latitudes, within 30° of the poles of the ecliptic. We propose that the binary orbit poles oriented preferentially up/down-right are due to either of the two processes: (i) the YORP tilt of spin axes of their parent bodies toward the asymptotic states near obliquities 0° and 180° (pre-formation mechanism) or (ii) the YORP tilt of spin axes of the primary components of already formed binary systems toward the asymptotic states near obliquities 0° and 180° (post-formation mechanism). The alternative process of elimination of binaries with poles closer to the ecliptic by dynamical instability, such as the Kozai effect due to gravitational perturbations from the Sun, does not explain the observed orbit pole concentration. This is because for close binary asteroid systems, the gravitational effects of primary's irregular shape dominate the solar-tide effect. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Chiorny V.,University of Kharkiv | Galad A.,Modra Observatory | Galad A.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Pravec P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | And 16 more authors.
Planetary and Space Science | Year: 2011

We present the results of absolute photometry the absolute brightness HV, the effective diameter, (B)VR color indices, composite light curves, period of rotation and amplitude of variations of several small asteroids in the inner main-belt: 1344 Caubeta, 1401 Lavonne, 2947 Kippenhahn, 3913 Chemin, 3956 Caspar, 4375 Kiyomori, 4555 1987 QL, 5484 Inoda, 5985 1942 RJ, 6949 Zissell and main-belt asteroid 6867 Kuwano. The photometric observations of these objects were made in the period 20072009 as part of a project of photometric studies of small main-belt asteroids that involves a collaboration of a number of asteroid photometrists around the world. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Vokrouhlicky D.,Charles University | Durech J.,Charles University | Polishook D.,Weizmann Institute of Science | Krugly Y.N.,University of Kharkiv | And 11 more authors.
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2011

Main belt asteroids (6070) Rheinland and (54827) 2001 NQ8 belong to a small population of couples of bodies that reside in very similar heliocentric orbits. Vokrouhlick & Nesvorn promoted the term "asteroid pairs," pointing out their common origin within the past tens to hundreds ofkyr. Previous attempts to reconstruct the initial configuration of Rheinland and 2001 NQ8 at the time of their separation have led to the prediction that Rheinland's rotation should be retrograde. Here, we report extensive photometric observations of this asteroid and use the light curve inversion technique to directly determine its rotation state and shape. We confirm the retrograde sense of rotation of Rheinland, with obliquity value constrained to be ≥140°. The ecliptic longitude of the pole position is not well constrained as yet. The asymmetric behavior of Rheinland's light curve reflects a sharp, near-planar edge in our convex shape representation of this asteroid. Our calibrated observations in the red filter also allow us to determine HR = 13.68 0.05 and G = 0.31 0.05 values of the H-G system. With the characteristic color index V - R = 0.49 0.05 for S-type asteroids, we thus obtain H = 14.17 0.07 for the absolute magnitude of (6070) Rheinland. This is a significantly larger value than previously obtained from analysis of astrometric survey observations. We next use the obliquity constraint for Rheinland to eliminate some degree of uncertainty in the past propagation of its orbit. This is because the sign of the past secular change of its semimajor axis due to the Yarkovsky effect is now constrained. The determination of the rotation state of the secondary component, asteroid (54827) 2001 NQ8, is the key element in further constraining the age of the pair and its formation process. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Becker T.M.,University of Central Florida | Howell E.S.,Arecibo Observatory Universities Space Research Association | Nolan M.C.,Arecibo Observatory Universities Space Research Association | Magri C.,University of Maine at Farmington | And 17 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2015

We report radar observations (2380-MHz, 13-cm) by the Arecibo Observatory and optical light curves observed from eight different observatories and collected at the Ondřejov Observatory of the triple near-Earth asteroid system (153591) 2001 SN263. The radar observations were obtained over the course of ten nights spanning February 12-26, 2008 and the light curve observations were made throughout January 12 - March 31, 2008. Both data sets include observations during the object's close approach of 0.06558AU on February 20th, 2008. The delay-Doppler images revealed the asteroid to be comprised of three components, making it the first known triple near-Earth asteroid. Only one other object, (136617) 1994 CC is a confirmed triple near-Earth asteroid.We present physical models of the three components of the asteroid system. We constrain the primary's pole direction to an ecliptic longitude and latitude of (309°, -80°)±15°. We find that the primary rotates with a period 3.4256±0.0002h and that the larger satellite has a rotation period of 13.43±0.01h, considerably shorter than its orbital period of approximately 6days. We find that the rotation period of the smaller satellite is consistent with a tidally locked state and therefore rotates with a period of 0.686±0.002 days (Fang et al. [2011]. Astron. J. 141, 154-168). The primary, the larger satellite, and the smaller satellite have equivalent diameters of 2.5±0.3km, 0.77±0.12km, 0.43±0.14km and densities of 1.1±0.2g/cm3, 1.0±0.4g/cm3, 2.3±1.3g/cm3, respectively. © 2014 The Authors.

Pravec P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Scheirich P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Durech J.,Charles University | Pollock J.,Appalachian State University | And 17 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2014

Our photometric observations of Asteroid (99942) Apophis from December 2012 to April 2013 revealed it to be in a state of non-principal axis rotation (tumbling). We constructed its spin and shape model and found that it is in a moderately excited Short Axis Mode (SAM) state with a ratio of the rotational kinetic energy to the basic spin state energy E/E0=1.024±0.013. (All quoted uncertainties correspond to 3σ.) The greatest and intermediate principal moments of inertia are nearly the same with I2/I3=0.965-0.015+0.009, but the smallest principal moment of inertia is substantially lower with I1/I3=0.61-0.08+0.11; the asteroid's dynamically equivalent ellipsoid is close to a prolate ellipsoid. The precession and rotation periods are Pφ=27.38±0.07h and Pψ=263±6h, respectively; the strongest observed lightcurve amplitude for the SAM case is in the 2nd harmonic of P1=Pφ-1-Pψ-1-1=30.56±0.01h. The rotation is retrograde with the angular momentum vector's ecliptic longitude and latitude of 250° and -75° (the uncertainty area is approximately an ellipse with the major and minor semiaxes of 27° and 14°, respectively). An implication of the retrograde rotation is a somewhat increased probability of the Apophis' impact in 2068, but it is still very small with the risk level on the Palermo Scale remaining well below zero. Apophis is a member of the population of slowly tumbling asteroids. Applying the theory of asteroid nutational damping by Breiter et al. (Breiter, S., Rożek, A., Vokrouhlický, D. [2012]. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 427, 755-769), we found that slowly tumbling asteroids predominate in the spin rate-size range where their estimated damping times are greater than about 0.2. Gyr. The appearance that the PA/NPA rotators transition line seems to follow a line of constant damping time may be because there are two or more asteroid spin evolution mechanisms in play, or the factor of μQ (the elastic modulus times the quality factor) is not constant but it may decrease with decreasing asteroid size, which would oppose the trend due to decreasing collisional age or excitation time. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

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