Absolute magnitudes of asteroids and a revision of asteroid albedo estimates from WISE thermal observations
We obtained estimates of the Johnson V absolute magnitudes (H) and slope parameters (G) for 583 main-belt and near-Earth asteroids observed at Ondřejov and Table Mountain Observatory from 1978 to 2011. Uncertainties of the absolute magnitudes in our sample are <0.21 mag, with a median value of 0.10 mag. We compared the H data with absolute magnitude values given in the MPCORB, Pisa AstDyS and JPL Horizons orbit catalogs. We found that while the catalog absolute magnitudes for large asteroids are relatively good on average, showing only little biases smaller than 0.1 mag, there is a systematic offset of the catalog values for smaller asteroids that becomes prominent in a range of H greater than ∼10 and is particularly big above H ∼ 12. The mean (Hcatalog - H) value is negative, i.e., the catalog H values are systematically too bright. This systematic negative offset of the catalog values reaches a maximum around H = 14 where the mean (Hcatalog - H) is -0.4 to -0.5. We found also smaller correlations of the offset of the catalog H values with taxonomic types and with lightcurve amplitude, up to ∼0.1 mag or less. We discuss a few possible observational causes for the observed correlations, but the reason for the large bias of the catalog absolute magnitudes peaking around H = 14 is unknown; we suspect that the problem lies in the magnitude estimates reported by asteroid surveys. With our photometric H and G data, we revised the preliminary WISE albedo estimates made by Masiero et al. (Masired, J.R. et al. . Astrophys. J. 741, 68-89) and Mainzer et al. (Mainzer, A. et al. [2011b]. Astrophys. J. 743, 156-172) for asteroids in our sample. We found that the mean geometric albedo of Tholen/Bus/DeMeo C/G/B/F/P/D types with sizes of 25-300 km is pV = 0.057 with the standard deviation (dispersion) of the sample of 0.013 and the mean albedo of S/A/L types with sizes 0.6-200 km is 0.197 with the standard deviation of the sample of 0.051. The standard errors of the mean albedos are 0.002 and 0.006, respectively; systematic observational or modeling errors can predominate over the quoted formal errors. There is apparent only a small, marginally significant difference of 0.031 ± 0.011 between the mean albedos of sub-samples of large and small (divided at diameter 25 km) S/A/L asteroids, with the smaller ones having a higher albedo. The difference will have to be confirmed and explained; we speculate that it may be either a real size dependence of surface properties of S type asteroids or a small size-dependent bias in the data (e.g., a bias towards higher albedos in the optically-selected sample of asteroids). A trend of the mean of the preliminary WISE albedo estimates increasing with asteroid size decreasing from D ∼ 30 down to ∼5 km (for S types) showed in Mainzer et al. (Mainzer, A. et al. [2011a]. Astrophys. J. 741, 90-114) appears to be mainly due to the systematic bias in the MPCORB absolute magnitudes that progressively increases with H in the corresponding range H = 10-14.