Volume 650, June 2021
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||17 June 2021|
Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS,
2 Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, Marseille, France
3 IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, Univ. Lille, France
4 University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD 20742, USA
5 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
6 Institute of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, V Holešovičkách 2, 18000 Prague, Czech Republic
7 Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août 17, 4000 Liège, Belgium
8 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
9 Mathematics and Statistics, Tampere University, 33014 Tampere, Finland
10 Astronomical Observatory Institute, Faculty of Physics, Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. Słoneczna 36, 60-286 Poznań, Poland
11 Geneva Observatory, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
12 Oukaimeden Observatory, High Energy Physics and Astrophysics Laboratory, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
13 Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, 5 Cutitul de Argint, 040557 Bucharest, Romania
14 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
15 European Space Agency, ESTEC - Scientific Support Office, Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk 2200 AG, The Netherlands
16 Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées IPSA, 63 bis Boulevard de Brandebourg, 94200 Ivry-sur-Seine, France
17 Thirty-Meter-Telescope, 100 West Walnut St, Suite 300, Pasadena, CA 91124, USA
18 Open University, School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, MK7 6AA, UK
19 Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux et Observations Spatiales, CNRS & Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Guyancourt, France
20 SETI Institute, Carl Sagan Center, 189 Bernado Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
21 Sección Física, Departamento de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Apartado 1761, Lima, Peru
22 Institute of Physics, University of Szczecin, Wielkopolska 15, 70-453 Szczecin, Poland
23 Departamento de Física, Ingeniería de Sistemas y Teoría de la Señal, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante, Spain
24 Institut de Ciències del Cosmos (ICCUB), Universitat de Barcelona (IEEC-UB), Martí Franquès 1, E08028 Barcelona, Spain
25 Towson University, Towson, MD, USA
26 Center for Solar System Studies, 446 Sycamore Ave., Eaton, CO 80615, USA
27 European Southern Observatory (ESO), Alonso de Cordova 3107, 1900 Casilla Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
Accepted: 5 March 2021
Context. Dynamical models of Solar System evolution have suggested that the so-called P- and D-type volatile-rich asteroids formed in the outer Solar System beyond Neptune’s orbit and may be genetically related to the Jupiter Trojans, comets, and small Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). Indeed, the spectral properties of P- and D-type asteroids resemble that of anhydrous cometary dust.
Aims. We aim to gain insights into the above classes of bodies by characterizing the internal structure of a large P- and D-type asteroid.
Methods. We report high-angular-resolution imaging observations of the P-type asteroid (87) Sylvia with the Very Large Telescope Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument. These images were used to reconstruct the 3D shape of Sylvia. Our images together with those obtained in the past with large ground-based telescopes were used to study the dynamics of its two satellites. We also modeled Sylvia’s thermal evolution.
Results. The shape of Sylvia appears flattened and elongated (a/b ~1.45; a/c ~1.84). We derive a volume-equivalent diameter of 271 ± 5 km and a low density of 1378 ± 45 kg m−3. The two satellites orbit Sylvia on circular, equatorial orbits. The oblateness of Sylvia should imply a detectable nodal precession which contrasts with the fully-Keplerian dynamics of its two satellites. This reveals an inhomogeneous internal structure, suggesting that Sylvia is differentiated.
Conclusions. Sylvia’s low density and differentiated interior can be explained by partial melting and mass redistribution through water percolation. The outer shell should be composed of material similar to interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) and the core should be similar to aqueously altered IDPs or carbonaceous chondrite meteorites such as the Tagish Lake meteorite. Numerical simulations of the thermal evolution of Sylvia show that for a body of such a size, partial melting was unavoidable due to the decay of long-lived radionuclides. In addition, we show that bodies as small as 130–150 km in diameter should have followed a similar thermal evolution, while smaller objects, such as comets and the KBO Arrokoth, must have remained pristine, which is in agreement with in situ observations of these bodies. NASA Lucy mission target (617) Patroclus (diameter ≈140 km) may, however, be differentiated.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: general / Kuiper belt: general / minor planets, asteroids: individual: Sylvia
Tables A.1, B.1, C.1 and C.2 and the reduced and deconvolved SPHERE images are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (184.108.40.206) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/cat/J/A+A/650/A129
Based on observations made with ESO telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under program 073.C-0851 (PI Merline), 073.C-0062 (PI Marchis), 085.C-0480 (PI Nitschelm), 088.C-0528 (PI Rojo), 199.C-0074 (PI Vernazza).
© B. Carry et al. 2021
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