Spectral evolution of dark asteroid surfaces induced by space weathering over a decadeOPEN ACCESS 

Sunao Hasegawa, Francesca E. DeMeo, Michael Marsset, Josef Hanus, Chrysa Avdellidou, Marco Delbo, Schelte J. Bus, Hidekazu Hanayama, Takashi Horiuchi, Driss Takir, Emmanuel Jehin, Marin Ferrais, Jooyeon Geem, Myungshin Im, Jinguk Seo, Yoonsoo P. Bach, Sunho Jin, Masateru Ishiguro, Daisuke Kuroda, Richard P. Binzel, Akiko M. Nakamura, Bin Yang, Pierre Vernazza

Accepted for publication in ApJ Letters


“The surface of airless bodies like asteroids in the Solar System are known to be affected by space weathering. Experiments simulating space weathering are essential for studying the effects of this process on meteorite samples, but the problem is that the time spent to reproduce space weathering in these experiments is billions of times shorter than the actual phenomenon. In December 2010, the T-type asteroid 596 Scheila underwent a collision with a few-tens-of-meters impactor. A decade later, there is an opportunity to study how the surface layer of this asteroid is being altered by space weathering after the impact. To do so, we performed visible spectrophotometric and near-infrared spectroscopic observations of 596 Scheila. The acquired spectrum is consistent with those observed shortly after the 2010 impact event within the observational uncertainty range. This indicates that the surface color of dark asteroids is not noticeably changed by space weathering over a 10-year period. This study is the first to investigate color changes due to space weathering on an actual asteroid surface in the Solar System. Considering that fresh layers are regularly created on asteroid surfaces by collisions, we suggest a genetic link between D/T-type and dark (low albedo) X-complex asteroids and very red objects such as 269 Justitia, 732 Tjilaki (and 203 Pompeja). New observations show that 203 Pompeja has a X-type-like surface, with some local surface areas exhibiting a very red spectrum.”