Status Report

Searching for the first Near-Earth Object family

By SpaceRef Editor
July 5, 2012
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Searching for the first Near-Earth Object family

We report on our search for genetically related asteroids amongst the near-Earth object (NEO) population – families of NEOs akin to the well known main belt asteroid families. We used the technique proposed by Fu et al. (2005) supplemented with a detailed analysis of the statistical significance of the detected clusters. Their significance was assessed by comparison to identical searches performed on 1,000 ‘fuzzy-real’ NEO orbit distribution models that we developed for this purpose. The family-free ‘fuzzy-real’ NEO models maintain both the micro and macro distribution of 5 orbital elements (ignoring the mean anomaly).

Three clusters were identified that contain four or more NEOs but none of them are statistically significant at \geq 3{\sigma}. The most statistically significant cluster at the \sim 2{\sigma} level contains 4 objects with H < 20 and all members have long observational arcs and concomitant good orbital elements. Despite the low statistical significance we performed several other tests on the cluster to determine if it is likely a genetic family. The tests included examining the cluster's taxonomy, size-frequency distribution, consistency with a family-forming event during tidal disruption in a close approach to Mars, and whether it is detectable in a proper element cluster search. None of these tests exclude the possibility that the cluster is a family but neither do they confirm the hypothesis. We conclude that we have not identified any NEO families. Eva Schunova, Mikael Granvik, Robert Jedicke, Giovanni Gronchi, Richard Wainscoat, Shinsuke Abe (Submitted on 3 Jul 2012) Comments: 36 pages, 3 tables, 9 figures, accepted for publication
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: ICARUS, 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2012.06.042
Cite as:
arXiv:1207.0836v1 [astro-ph.EP]
Submission history
From: Eva Schunova [view email]
[v1] Tue, 3 Jul 2012 21:10:51 GMT (827kb)

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