Thermal infrared observations of asteroid (99942) Apophis with Herschel

Müller, T. G. and Kiss, C. and Scheirich, P. and Pravec, P. and O’Rourke, L. and Vilenius, E. and Altieri, B. (2014) Thermal infrared observations of asteroid (99942) Apophis with Herschel. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 566. A22. ISSN 0004-6361


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The near-Earth asteroid (99942) Apophis is a potentially hazardous asteroid. We obtained far-infrared observations of this asteroid with the Herschel Space Observatory PACS instrument at 70, 100, and 160 mum. These were taken at two epochs in January and March 2013 during a close-Earth encounter. These first thermal measurements of Apophis were taken at similar phase angles before and after opposition. We performed a detailed thermophysical model analysis by using the spin and shape model recently derived from applying a two-period Fourier series method to a large sample of well-calibrated photometric observations. We found that the tumbling asteroid Apophis has an elongated shape with a mean diameter of 375+14-10 m (of an equal volume sphere) and a geometric V-band albedo of 0.30+0.05-0.06. We found a thermal inertia in the range 250-800 Jm-2 s-0.5 K-1 (best solution at Gamma = 600 Jm-2 s-0.5 K-1), which can be explained by a mixture of low-conductivity fine regolith with larger rocks and boulders of high thermal inertia on the surface. The thermal inertia, and other similarities with (25143) Itokawa indicate that Apophis might also have a rubble-pile structure. If we combine the new size value with the assumption of an Itokawa-like density and porosity we estimate a mass between 4.4 and 6.2 × 1010 kg, which is more than 2-3 times larger than previous estimates. We expect that the newly derived properties will influence impact scenario studies and the long-term orbit predictions of Apophis.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QB Astronomy, Astrophysics / csillagászat, asztrofizika
Depositing User: Dr Csaba Kiss
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2014 14:21
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2015 23:15

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