Binary Asteroids: Evidence for Their Existence from Lightcurves

Science  02 Mar 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4383, pp. 905-907
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4383.905


The lightcurves of the asteroids 49 Pales and 171 Ophelia bear a striking resemblance to those of eclipsing binary stars. This evidence suggests that these asteroids are binary objects. Asteroids belonging to the Themis dynamical family have unusual lightcurves, possibly due to satellite events; these unusual lightcurves suggest that multiple objects may be formed during the disruption of asteroids in collisional events.