Gaia search for early-formed andesitic asteroidal crustsOPEN ACCESS 

Marjorie Galinier, Marco Delbo, Chrysa Avdellidou, Laurent Galluccio, Yves Marrocchi

Astronomy & Astrophysics manuscript (January 3, 2023)


“Context. Andesitic meteorites are among the oldest achondrites known to date. They record volcanic events and crust formation episodes in primordial planetesimals that took place about 4.565 Myr ago. However, no analogue for these meteorites has been found in the asteroid population to date. Aims. We searched for spectroscopic analogues of the andesitic meteorite Erg Chech 002 in the asteroid population using the Gaia DR3 spectral dataset. Methods. In order to identify which asteroids have the most similar spectrum to Erg Chech 002, we first determined the spectral parameters of Gaia DR3 asteroids (spectral slope and Band I depth) and compared them to the spectral parameters of different samples of the meteorite. In addition, we performed a spectral curve matching between Erg Chech 002 and Gaia DR3 asteroid data, and we compared the results of both methods. Results. We found that 51 main-belt asteroids have a visible spectrum similar to the one of Erg Chech 002, and 91 have a spectrum similar to the space-weathered spectra of the meteorite, corresponding to 0.08 and 0.15% of the whole Gaia DR3 dataset of asteroids with spectra, respectively. The asteroids that best match the laboratory samples of the meteorite are mostly located in the inner main belt, while the objects matching the space-weathered meteorite models show slightly more scattering across the belt. Conclusions. Despite the fact that we find asteroids that potentially match Erg Chech 002, these asteroids are extremely rare. Moreover, a visible spectrum alone is not completely diagnostic of an Erg Chech 002-like composition. Near-infrared spectra will be important to confirm (or rule out) the spectral matches between Erg Chech 002 and the candidate asteroid population.”