Binary Asteroids in the Near-Earth Object Population

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  24 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5572, pp. 1445-1448
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072094

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2000 DP107 show that it is composed of an ∼800-meter-diameter primary and an ∼300-meter-diameter secondary revolving around their common center of mass. The orbital period of 1.755 ± 0.007 days and semimajor axis of 2620 ± 160 meters constrain the total mass of the system to 4.6 ± 0.5 × 1011 kilograms and the bulk density of the primary to 1.7 ± 1.1 grams per cubic centimeter. This system and other binary near-Earth asteroids have spheroidal primaries spinning near the breakup point for strengthless bodies, suggesting that the binaries formed by spin-up and fission, probably as a result of tidal disruption during close planetary encounters. About 16% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 200 meters in diameter may be binary systems.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: margot{at}

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science