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Identification of asteroid families older than 2 billion years

Abstract : Asteroid families are the remnant fragments of asteroids broken apart by collisions. There are only a few known Main Belt (MB) asteroid families with ages greater than 2 Gyr (Brož et al., 2013; Spoto et al., 2015). Estimates based on the family producing collision rate suggest that the lack of > 2 Gyr-old families may be due to a selection bias in classic techniques used to identify families. Family fragments disperse in their orbital elements, semimajor axis, a, eccentricity, e, and inclination, i, due to secular resonances, mean motion resonances, close encounters, secondary collisions and the nongravitational Yarkovsky force. This causes the family fragments to be more difficult to identify with the hierarchical clustering method (HCM), which attempts to find cluster in orbital element space, when applied to family fragments’ elements as the fragments age. We have developed a new technique that is insensitive to the spreading of fragments in e and i by searching for V-shaped correlations of family members in a and asteroid diameter, D. A group of asteroids is identified as a collisional family if its boundary in the a vs. 1/D plane has a characteristic V-shape which is due to the size dependent Yarkovsky effect. The V-shape technique is demonstrated on the known families and families difficult to identify by HCM, and used to discover a 4 Gyr-old family linking most dark asteroids in the inner MB not included in any known family (Delbo' et al., 2017). The 4 Gyr-old family reveals asteroids with D > 35 km that do not belong to any asteroid family implying that they originally accreted from the protoplanetary disk and support recent theories on the formation of asteroids (Morbidelli et al., 2009). The V-shape detection tool is also a powerful analysis method for finding the boundary of an asteroid family and fitting for its shape. Thermal properties of the surfaces of asteroids such as the thermal inertia, Γ, determine the magnitude of the drift rate cause by the Yarkovsky force. Following the proposed anti-correlation between Γ and and D (Delbo' & Tanga, 2009; Delbo' et al., 2015), the Yarkovsky effect may have a more complex D dependence than previously thought, causing the family V-shape boundary to be curved in a vs. 1/D space. The V-shape tool is capable of detecting this curvature on synthetic families and was deployed on >20 families located throughout the MB to find this effect. The curvature of family V-shapes implies on average that the Yarkovsky drift rate scales with D^-(0.8-0.9). We find that there is no correlation between family age and V-shape curvature for families older than 100 Myrs. Additionally, the V-shape curvature decreases for asteroid families with larger a suggesting that the relationship between Γ and D is less anti-correlated in the Outer MB. By examining families <20 Myrs-old with the V-shape technique, we can separate family V-shapes caused by the initial ejection of fragments from those that are caused by the Yarkovsky effect. We constrain the initial velocity of young families by measuring the curvature of their fragments’ V-shape in a vs. 1/D space. We measure the V-shape curvature of 11 asteroid families that are too young for most of their known fragments to have undergone significant evolution in semi-major axis due to the Yarkovsky effect. We find that the majority of asteroid families in our sample have initial ejection velocity fields that scale with 1/D supporting the laboratory impact experiments and computer simulations of disrupting asteroid family parent bodies (Fujiwara et al., 1989; Michel et al., 2001; Durda et al., 2004; Nesvorný et al., 2006). In addition, the difference in curvature between <20 Myr-old families from the curvature of older family V-shapes evolved is independent evidence separating initial ejection velocity V-shapes from Yarkovsky V-shapes.
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Bryce Bolin. Identification of asteroid families older than 2 billion years. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Côte d'Azur, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018AZUR4035⟩. ⟨tel-02108950⟩

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