Flattening, pole, and albedo features of 4 vesta from photometric data
Abstract
A number of large asteroids show irregular lightcurves of relatively small amplitude and/or ambiguous rotational periods. These observations and the fact that their strong gravitational binding probably results in quasiequilibrium shapes lead to model these bodies as axisymmetric, biaxial ellipsoids covered by albedo markings. We developed a general numerical algorithm for obtaining simulated lightcurves of "spotted" asteroids and varied the most critical geometrical and physical parameters (albedo contrast, size, and position of the spots; polar coordinates, and shape of the asteroid). We then analyzed the case of 4 Vesta by assuming an axisymmetric ellipsoidal shape with a large brighter region on one hemisphere, in agreement with the results of photometric and polarimetric observations. Fitting the numerical simulations to the available data, we obtained the flattening of the ellipsoid (0.79 ± 0.03), the albedo contrast and geometry of the brighter region, and the orientation of the polar axis. If the derived flattenning corresponds to the equilibrium shape of a nearly homogeneous body, a density of 2.4 ± 0.3 g cm ^{3} can be inferred. These results show satisfactory agreement with values by different techniques. We plan to apply the same method both to other large asteroids and to smaller, irregularly shaped ones; in the latter case, this will allow us to test the uncertainties in current pole determination methods.
 Publication:

Icarus
 Pub Date:
 June 1987
 DOI:
 10.1016/00191035(87)900959
 Bibcode:
 1987Icar...70..546C
 Keywords:

 Astronomical Models;
 Astronomical Photometry;
 Light Curve;
 Vesta Asteroid;
 Albedo;
 Algorithms;
 Data Reduction;
 Flattening;
 Mathematical Models;
 ASTEROIDS;
 VESTA;
 POLAR REGIONS;
 ALBEDO;
 PHOTOMETRY;
 LIGHTCURVES;
 AMPLITUDE;
 ROTATION;
 PERIODS;
 SHAPE;
 PHYSICAL PROPERTIES;
 GEOMETRY;
 ANALYSIS;
 BRIGHTNESS;
 NUMERICAL METHODS;
 DENSITY;
 TECHNIQUE;
 MODELS;
 MAGNITUDE;
 CALCULATIONS;
 Lunar and Planetary Exploration; Asteroids, Earth Science