The origin of asteroid 101955 (1999 RQ36)

Humberto Campins, Alessandro Morbidelli, Kleomenis Tsiganis, Julia De León, Javier Licandro, Dante Lauretta

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62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Near-Earth asteroid (NEA) 101955 (1999 RQ36; henceforth RQ36) is especially accessible to spacecraft and is the primary target of NASA's OSIRIS-REx sample return mission; it is also a potentially hazardous asteroid. We combine dynamical and spectral information to identify the most likely main-belt origin of RQ36 and we conclude that it is the Polana family, located at a semimajor axis of about 2.42 AU. We also conclude that the Polana family may be the most important inner-belt source of low-albedo NEAs. These conclusions are based on the following results. (1) Dynamical evidence strongly favors an inner-belt, low-inclination (2.15 AU < a < 2.5 AU and i < 10°) origin, suggesting the ?6 resonance as the preferred (95% probability) delivery route. (2) This region is dominated by the Nysa and Polana families. (3) The Polana family is characterized by low albedos and B-class spectra or colors, the same albedo and spectral class as RQ36. (4) The Sloan Digital Sky Survey colors show that the Polana family is the branch of the Nysa-Polana complex that extends toward the ?6 resonance; furthermore, the Polana family has delivered objects of the size of RQ36 and larger into the ?6 resonance. (5) A quantitative comparison of visible and near-infrared spectra does not yield a unique match for RQ36; however, it is consistent with a compositional link between RQ36 and the Polana family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L53-L57
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume721
Issue number1 PART 2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2010

Keywords

  • Asteroids: general
  • Minor planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Campins, H., Morbidelli, A., Tsiganis, K., De León, J., Licandro, J., & Lauretta, D. (2010). The origin of asteroid 101955 (1999 RQ36). Astrophysical Journal Letters, 721(1 PART 2), L53-L57. https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/721/1/L53