Asteroid taxonomic classification in the Gaia photometric system
Department of Astronomy and Space Physics, Uppsala University, Box 515, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 13 March 2007
Aims.We evaluate the prospects of performing automatic taxonomic classification of asteroids in a proposed broad and medium band photometric system of Gaia.
Methods.The study is based on asteroid colors from the Eight-Color Asteroid Survey (ECAS) and CCD spectra from the Small Mainbelt Asteroid Spectral Survey II (SMASSII). The success of the Gaia photometric systems for taxonomic classification is evaluated using supervised classification techniques and mean taxonomic class spectra in the Tholen and Bus&Binzel taxonomic systems. Our supervised classification method is based on rms differences between individual asteroid spectra and taxonomic mean spectra and provides probability estimates of membership in all taxonomic classes.
Results.We find that both photometric systems of Gaia are able to discriminate between all of the twelve Tholen asteroid classes for noise-free data. The medium band system is able to discriminate between the majority of the 26 SMASSII asteroid classes in case of high quality photometric data. For both the Tholen and Bus & Binzel taxonomies we find that about 25% of the asteroids are spectrally more similar to another taxonomic class in a best-fit sense, though the differences within the three major complexes (C, S and X) are 1–10%.
Conclusions.Among the two main existing taxonomies, the Gaia photometric system is found to be best suited for the Bus & Binzel taxonomy. The medium band system is the preferred system for all but the faintest objects. The classification method employed here results in more concentrated taxonomic class domains in principal component space, and mean taxonomic spectra that are formed from less divergent class members, than the case for the nominal classification systems. It provides statistical probability estimates for class memberships and naturally reflects the fact that asteroid spectral shapes form a continuum in principal component space.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids / methods: data analysis / space vehicles: instruments
© ESO, 2007