From observations by the Hubble Space Telescope, Keck II Telescope, and Gemini North Telescope, we have determined the mutual orbit of the large transneptunian object (174567) Varda and its satellite Ilmarë. These two objects orbit one another in a highly inclined, circular or near-circular orbit with a period of 5.75 days and a semimajor axis of 4810 km. This orbit reveals the system mass to be (2.664 ± 0.064) × 1020 kg, slightly greater than the mass of the second most massive main-belt asteroid (4) Vesta. The dynamical mass can in turn be combined with estimates of the surface area of the system from Herschel Space Telescope thermal observations to estimate a bulk density of 1.24-0.35+0.50g cm - 3 . Varda and Ilmarë both have colors similar to the combined colors of the system, B-V = 0.886 ± 0.025 and V-I = 1.156 ± 0.029.
- Pub Date:
- September 2015
- Kuiper belt;
- Trans-neptunian objects;
- Hubble Space Telescope observations;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 16 pages, 4 tables, 6 figures, in press in Icarus