Footprints of a possible Ceres asteroid paleo-family

V. Carruba, D. Nesvorný, S. Marchi, S. Aljbaae

Accepted for publication in MNRAS

PDF (open access)

“Ceres is the largest and most massive body in the asteroid main belt. Observational data from the Dawn spacecraft reveal the presence of at least two impact craters about 280~km in diameter on the Ceres surface, that could have expelled a significant number of fragments. Yet, standard techniques for identifying dynamical asteroid families have not detected any Ceres family. In this work, we argue that linear secular resonances with Ceres deplete the population of objects near Ceres. Also, because of the high escape velocity from Ceres, family members are expected to be very dispersed, with a considerable fraction of km-sized fragments that should be able to reach the pristine region of the main belt, the area between the 5J:-2A and 7J:-3A mean-motion resonances, where the observed number of asteroids is low. Rather than looking for possible Ceres family members near Ceres, here we propose to search in the pristine region. We identified 156 asteroids whose taxonomy, colors, albedo could be compatible with being fragments from Ceres. Remarkably, most of these objects have inclinations near that of Ceres itself.”