Rotational fission of trans-Neptunian objects: the case of Haumea

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Title: Rotational fission of trans-Neptunian objects: the case of Haumea
Authors: Ortiz Moreno, José Luis | Thirouin, Audrey | Campo Bagatin, Adriano | Duffard, René | Licandro, Javier | Richardson, Derek C. | Santos Sanz, Pablo | Morales Palomino, Nicolás | Benavídez, Paula Gabriela
Research Group/s: Astronomía y Astrofísica
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Física, Ingeniería de Sistemas y Teoría de la Señal
Keywords: Kuiper belt: general | Kuiper belt objects: individual: Haumea | Minor planets, asteroids: general
Knowledge Area: Física Aplicada
Issue Date: 21-Jan-2012
Publisher: Royal Astronomical Society
Citation: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 2012, 419(3): 2315-2324. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19876.x
Abstract: We present several lines of evidence, based on different kinds of observations, and we conclude that it is likely that rotational fission has occurred for a fraction of the known trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). It is also likely that a number of binary systems have formed from that process in the trans-Neptunian belt. We show that Haumea is, potentially, an example of an object that has suffered rotational fission. Its current fast spin would be a slight evolution of a primordial fast spin, rather than the result of a catastrophic collision. This is because the percentage of objects rotating faster than 4 h would not be small in a Maxwellian distribution of spin rates, which fits the current TNO rotation data base. Besides, the specific total angular momentum of Haumea and its satellites falls close to that of the high-size-ratio asteroid binaries, which are thought to be the result of rotational fission or mass shedding. We also present N-body simulations of rotational fission applied to the case of Haumea. These show that this process is feasible; it might have generated satellites, and it might have even created a ‘family’ of bodies orbitally associated to Haumea. The orbitally associated bodies might come from the direct ejection of fragments, according to our simulations, or through the evolution of a proto-satellite formed during the fission event. The disruption of an escaped fragment after the fission might also create the orbitally related bodies. If any of these mechanisms are correct, other rotational fission families could be detectable in the trans-Neptunian belt in the future. Perhaps, TNO pairs might even be found (i.e. pairs of bodies sharing very similar orbital elements but not bound together).
Sponsor: This research was partially supported by Spanish grants AYA2008-06202-C03-01, AYA-06202-C03-02, AYA2008-06202-C03-03, P07-FQM-02998 and European FEDER funds. RD acknowledges financial support from the MICINN (contract Ramón y Cajal). DCR acknowledges support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant No. NNX08AM39G issued through the Office of Space Science.
ISSN: 0035-8711 (Print) | 1365-2966 (Online)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19876.x
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:INV - Astronomía y Astrofísica - Artículos de Revistas

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