EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 416, Number 2, March III 2004
Page(s) 791 - 798
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031727

A&A 416, 791-798 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031727

Aqueous altered silicates at the surface of two Plutinos?

C. de Bergh1, H. Boehnhardt2, M. A. Barucci1, M. Lazzarin3, S. Fornasier3, J. Romon-Martin1, G. P. Tozzi4, A. Doressoundiram1 and E. Dotto5

1  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
2  Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
3  Astronomical Department of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
4  INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, 50125 Firenze, Italy
5  INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, 00040 Monteporzio Catone, Italy

(Received 31 January 2003 / Accepted 4 December 2003 )

In April 2001 we obtained visible and near-infrared spectra, as well as photometric data, for two Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), 2000 GN 171 (now numbered 47932) and 2000 EB 173 (now designated 38628 Huya), which belong to the dynamical class of Plutinos. These observations were made with the FORS1 and ISAAC instruments at the European Southern Observatory-Very Large Telescope (ESO-VLT). The detection of weak absorption features in the visible spectra of these two Trans-Neptunians has been reported elsewhere (Lazzarin et al. 2003). In this paper, we discuss the interpretation of the features, which are different for the two objects, and we present some complementary observations in the near-infrared, as well as more recent (May 2002) visible spectra in which the features are absent. Although the visible colors of the two objects are comparable, the near-infrared spectra are different: (47932) 2000 GN 171 shows a nearly flat spectrum, except in the H band where a broad absorption appears, whereas the spectrum of (38628) Huya (2000 EB 173) has a red slope in the J band and some absorption beyond 2 micron. The features detected in the visible spectra of the two objects are tentatively attributed to the presence of iron oxides or phyllosilicates at the surfaces of the two objects. The differences between the April 2001 and May 2002 visible spectra are attributed to spatial variations at the surfaces of the objects. We briefly discuss possibilities for aqueous alteration in TNOs, after reviewing what we know about the presence of aqueously altered minerals in other small bodies of the solar system. Further studies monitoring the rotation of these two objects are highly desirable.

Key words: minor planets, asteroids

Offprint request: C. de Bergh, catherine.debergh@obspm.fr

© ESO 2004

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