Composition of inner main-belt planetesimals

1J. Bourdelle de Micas,1,2S. Fornasier,3C. Avdellidou,3M. Delbo,4G. van Belle,5,6P. Ochner,4W. Grundy,4N. Moskovitz
Astronomy & Astrophysics 665, A83 Open Access Link to Article [DOI]
1LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Université Paris Cité, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
2Institut Universitaire de France (IUF), 1 rue Descartes, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
3Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS-Lagrange, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CS 34229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
4Lowell Observatory, 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
5INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy
6Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia G. Galilei, Universitá di Padova, Vicolo dell’ Osservatorio 3, 35122 Padova, Italy
Reproduced with permission (C)ESO

Aims. We carried out a spectroscopic survey in order to investigate the composition of 64 asteroids of the inner main belt, which are leftovers of the original planetesimals of our Solar System (we call them inner main belt planetesimals or IMBPs). Following published methods, we identified IMBPs in the inverse size versus semimajor axis (α) space, after the removal of all asteroids belonging to collisional families.

Methods. We conducted several ground-based observational campaigns of these IMBPs in the visible range at the 1.82 m Asiago telescope, and in the near-infrared range at the Telescopio Nationale Galileo, the Lowell Discovery Telescope, and the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility telescopes. As several of the identified planetesimals already have spectra published in the literature, we collected all the available data and focused the telescope time to investigate those never observed before, or to complete the 0.45–2.5 μm range spectrum for those for which there is only partial spectral coverage or data with poor signal-to-noise ratio. In this way, we obtained new spectra for 24 IMBPs. Combining new and literature observations, we present spectra for 60 IMBPs in both the visible and near-infrared range, and 4 IMBPs in the visible only. All spectra were classified following well-established taxonomies. We also characterized their spectral absorption bands – when present –, their spectral slopes, and their mineralogy. In addition, we performed curve matching between astronomical and laboratory spectra in order to identify the closest meteorite analog using the RELAB database.

Results. The majority of the IMBPs belong to the S-complex; the latter are best matched with ordinary chondrite meteorites, and their olivine/(olivine and pyroxene) abundance ratio is not correlated with the semi-major axis. This result does not support the hypothesis that this ratio increases with heliocentric distance. Furthermore, ~27% of the IMBPs belong to the C-complex, where Ch/Cgh types dominate, meaning that most of the carbonaceous-rich planetesimals were aqueously altered. These are best fitted by CM2 carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Finally, the remaining IMBPs (~20%) belong to the X-complex, and have various mineralogies and meteorite matches, while a few are end-member classes, including L-, K-, V-, and D- or T-types.

Conclusions. Our spectroscopic investigation of IMBPs confirms that silicate-rich bodies dominated the inner main belt where temperature has permitted the condensation of silicate rocks. However, almost all the spectral types are found, with the notable exception of olivine-rich A-types and Q-type asteroids. Their absence, as well as the absence of the R- and O-types among planetesimals, might be due to the rarity of these types among large asteroids. However, the absence of Q-types among primordial planetesimals is expected, as they have undergone surface rejuvenating processes. Therefore, Q-types have relatively young and less weathered surfaces compared to other types. Our results support the hypothesis of compositional mixing in the early Solar System. In particular, the fact that most of the C-complex planetesimals are aqueous altered, and the presence of three D- or T-type asteroids among them indicate that these bodies migrated from beyond 3 au to their current position.


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