EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 478, Number 1, January IV 2008
Page(s) 235 - 244
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20078166

A&A 478, 235-244 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20078166

Near-infrared mapping and physical properties of the dwarf-planet Ceres

B. Carry1, 2, C. Dumas1, 3, M. Fulchignoni2, W. J. Merline4, J. Berthier5, D. Hestroffer5, T. Fusco6, and P. Tamblyn4

1  ESO, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Santiago de Chile, Chile
    e-mail: bcarry@eso.org
2  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon Cedex, France
3  NASA/JPL, MS 183-501, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA
4  SwRI, 1050 Walnut St. # 300, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
5  IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, 77 Av. Denfert Rochereau, 75014 Paris, France
6  ONERA, BP 72, 923222 Châtillon Cedex, France

(Received 26 June 2007 / Accepted 6 November 2007)

Aims.We study the physical characteristics (shape, dimensions, spin axis direction, albedo maps, mineralogy) of the dwarf-planet Ceres based on high angular-resolution near-infrared observations.
Methods.We analyze adaptive optics J/H/K imaging observations of Ceres performed at Keck II Observatory in September 2002 with an equivalent spatial resolution of ~50 km. The spectral behavior of the main geological features present on Ceres is compared with laboratory samples.
Results.Ceres' shape can be described by an oblate spheroid (a = b = 479.7 $\pm$ 2.3 km, c = 444.4 $\pm$ 2.1 km) with EQJ2000.0 spin vector coordinates $\alpha_0$ = 288° $\pm$ 5° and $\delta_0$ = +66° $\pm$ 5°. Ceres sidereal period is measured to be $9.074\,10_{-0.000\,14}^{+0.000\,10}$ h. We image surface features with diameters in the 50-180 km range and an albedo contrast of ~6% with respect to the average Ceres albedo. The spectral behavior of the brightest regions on Ceres is consistent with phyllosilicates and carbonate compounds. Darker isolated regions could be related to the presence of frost.

Key words: minor planets, asteroids -- infrared: solar system -- techniques: high angular resolution -- methods: observational

© ESO 2008

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