Brevia

The Breakup of a Main-Belt Asteroid 450 Thousand Years Ago

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Science  09 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5779, pp. 1490
DOI: 10.1126/science.1126175

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Abstract

Collisions in the asteroid belt frequently lead to catastrophic breakups, where more than half of the target's mass is ejected into space. Several dozen large asteroids have been disrupted by impacts over the past several billion years. These impact events have produced groups of fragments with similar orbits called asteroid families. Here we report the discovery of a very young asteroid family around the object 1270 Datura. Our work takes advantage of a method for identification of recent breakups in the asteroid belt using catalogs of osculating (i.e., instantaneous) asteroid orbits. The very young families show up in these catalogs as clusters in a five-dimensional space of osculating orbital elements.

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