Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille),
2 Institute of Astronomy, Charles University, Prague, V Holešovičká ch 2, 18000, Prague 8, Czech Republic
3 Department of Mathematics, Tampere University of Technology, PO Box 553, 33101 Tampere, Finland
4 Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK
5 Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, Laboratoire Lagrange, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
6 SETI Institute, Carl Sagan Center, 189 Bernado Avenue, Mountain View CA 94043, USA
7 IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, 77 avenue Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris Cedex, France
8 Astronomical Observatory Institute, Faculty of Physics, Adam Mickiewicz University, Słoneczna 36, 60-286 Poznań, Poland
9 Institute of Physics, University of Szczecin, Wielkopolska 15, 70-453 Szczecin, Poland
10 Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research Institute, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août 17, 4000 Liège, Belgium
11 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
12 European Space Agency, ESTEC – Scientific Support Office, Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk 2200 AG, The Netherlands
13 TMT Observatory, Pasadena, CA 91124, USA
14 Sección Física, Departamento de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Apartado, Lima 1761, Peru
15 Center for Solar System Studies, 446 Sycamore Ave., Eaton, CO 80615, USA
16 European Southern Observatory (ESO), Alonso de Cordova 3107, 1900 Casilla Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
17 School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
18 Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2421, USA
19 Oukaimeden Observatory, High Energy Physics and Astrophysics Laboratory, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
Accepted: 11 July 2018
Context. The vast majority of the geophysical and geological constraints (e.g., internal structure, cratering history) for main-belt asteroids have so far been obtained via dedicated interplanetary missions (e.g., ESA Rosetta, NASA Dawn). The high angular resolution of SPHERE/ZIMPOL, the new-generation visible adaptive-optics camera at ESO VLT, implies that these science objectives can now be investigated from the ground for a large fraction of D ≥ 100 km main-belt asteroids. The sharp images acquired by this instrument can be used to accurately constrain the shape and thus volume of these bodies (hence density when combined with mass estimates) and to characterize the distribution and topography of D ≥ 30 km craters across their surfaces.
Aims. Here, via several complementary approaches, we evaluated the recently proposed hypothesis that the S-type asteroid (89) Julia is the parent body of a small compact asteroid family that formed via a cratering collisional event.
Methods. We observed (89) Julia with VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL throughout its rotation, derived its 3D shape, and performed a reconnaissance and characterization of the largest craters. We also performed numerical simulations to first confirm the existence of the Julia family and to determine its age and the size of the impact crater at its origin. Finally, we utilized the images/3D shape in an attempt to identify the origin location of the small collisional family.
Results. On the one hand, our VLT/SPHERE observations reveal the presence of a large crater (D ~ 75 km) in Julia’s southern hemisphere. On the other hand, our numerical simulations suggest that (89) Julia was impacted 30–120 Myrs ago by a D ~ 8 km asteroid, thereby creating a D ≥ 60 km impact crater at the surface of Julia. Given the small size of the impactor, the obliquity of Julia and the particular orientation of the family in the (a,i) space, the imaged impact crater is likely to be the origin of the family.
Conclusions. New doors into ground-based asteroid exploration, namely, geophysics and geology, are being opened thanks to the unique capabilities of VLT/SPHERE. Also, the present work may represent the beginning of a new era of asteroid-family studies. In the fields of geophysics, geology, and asteroid family studies, the future will only get brighter with the forthcoming arrival of 30–40 m class telescopes like ELT, TMT, and GMT.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: individual: (89) Julia / methods: observational / techniques: high angular resolution / methods: numerical
Based on observations made with ESO Telescopes at the Paranal Observatory under program ID 199.C-0074 (PI: P. Vernazza).
The reduced images are only available available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/618/A154
© ESO 2018
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.