Evidence for a Color Dependence in the Size Distribution of Main-Belt Asteroids

Paul Wiegert, David Balam, Andrea Moss, Christian Veillet, Martin Connors, Ian Shelton
2007 Astronomical Journal  
We present the results of a project to detect small (~1 km) main-belt asteroids with the 3.6 meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). We observed in 2 filters (MegaPrime g' and r') in order to compare the results in each band. Owing to the observational cadence we did not observe the same asteroids through each filter and thus do not have true colour information. However strong differences in the size distributions as seen in the two filters point to a colour-dependence at these sizes,
more » ... t these sizes, perhaps to be expected in this regime where asteroid cohesiveness begins to be dominated by physical strength and composition rather than by gravity. The best fit slopes of the cumulative size distributions (CSDs) in both filters tend towards lower values for smaller asteroids, consistent with the results of previous studies. In addition to this trend, the size distributions seen in the two filters are distinctly different, with steeper slopes in r' than in g'. Breaking our sample up according to semimajor axis, the difference between the filters in the inner belt is found to be somewhat less pronounced than in the middle and outer belt, but the CSD of those asteroids seen in the r' filter is consistently and significantly steeper than in g' throughout. The CSD slopes also show variations with semimajor axis within a given filter, particularly in r'. We conclude that the size distribution of main belt asteroids is likely to be colour dependent at kilometer sizes and that this dependence may vary across the belt.
doi:10.1086/512128 fatcat:exohbuz7jzdytnmuvcyo5orbfe