The Physical Characterization of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2004 BL86: A Fragment of a Differentiated Asteroid

Vishnu Reddy, Bruce L. Gary, Juan A. Sanchez, Driss Takir, Cristina A. Thomas, Paul S. Hardersen, Yenal Ogmen, Paul Benni, Thomas G. Kaye, Joao Gregorio, Joe Garlitz, David Polishook, Lucille Le Corre, and Andreas Nathues

The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 811, Number 1
Published 2015 September 22

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“The physical characterization of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) is important for impact hazard assessment and evaluating mitigation options. Close flybys of PHAs provide an opportunity to study their surface photometric and spectral properties that enable the identification of their source regions in the main asteroid belt. We observed PHA (357439) 2004 BL86 during a close flyby of the Earth at a distance of 1.2 million km (0.0080 AU) on 2015 January 26, with an array of ground-based telescopes to constrain its photometric and spectral properties. Lightcurve observations showed that the asteroid was a binary and subsequent radar observations confirmed the binary nature and gave a primary diameter of 300 m and a secondary diameter of 50–100 m. Our photometric observations were used to derive the phase curve of 2004 BL86 in the V-band. Two different photometric functions were fitted to this phase curve, the IAU H–G model and the Shevchenko model. From the fit of the H–G function we obtained an absolute magnitude of H = 19.51 ± 0.02 and a slope parameter of G = 0.34 ± 0.02. The Shevchenko function yielded an absolute magnitude of H = 19.03 ± 0.07 and a phase coefficient b = 0.0225 ± 0.0006. The phase coefficient was used to calculate the geometric albedo (Ag) using the relationship found by Belskaya & Schevchenko, obtaining a value of Ag = 40% ± 8% in the V-band. With the geometric albedo and the absolute magnitudes derived from the H–G and the Shevchenko functions we calculated the diameter (D) of 2004 BL86, obtaining D = 263 ± 26 and D = 328 ± 35 m, respectively. 2004 BL86 spectral band parameters and pyroxene chemistry are consistent with non-cumulate eucrite meteorites. A majority of these meteorites are derived from Vesta and are analogous with surface lava flows on a differentiated parent body. A non-diagnostic spectral curve match using the Modeling for Asteroids tool yielded a best-match with non-cumulate eucrite Bereba. Three other near-Earth asteroids (1993 VW, 1998 KK17, and 2000 XH44) that were observed by Burbine et al. also have spectral properties similar to 2004 BL86. The presence of eucrites with anomalous oxygen isotope ratios compared to the howardites, eucrites, and diogenites meteorites from Vesta suggests the possible presence of multiple differentiated bodies in the inner main belt or the contamination of Vesta’s surface with exogenic material. The spectral properties of both anomalous and Vestan eucrites are degenerate, making it difficult to identify the parent bodies of anomalous eucrites in the main belt and the NEO population using remote sensing. This makes it difficult to link 2004 BL86 directly to Vesta, although the Vesta family is the largest contributor of V-types to near-Earth space.”