The Increasingly Strange Polarimetric Behavior of the Barbarian AsteroidsOPEN ACCESS 

Joseph R. Masiero, Maxime Devogele, Isabella Macias, Joahan Castaneda Jaimes, Alberto Cellino


“Polarization phase-curve measurements provide a unique constraint on the surface properties of asteroids that are complementary to those from photometry and spectroscopy, and have led to the identification of the “Barbarian” asteroids as a class of objects with highly unusual surfaces. We present new near-infrared polarimetric observations of six Barbarian asteroids obtained with the WIRC+Pol instrument on the Palomar Hale telescope. We find a dramatic change in polarimetric behavior from visible to near-infrared for these objects, including a change in the polarimetric inversion angle that is tied to the index of refraction of the surface material. Our observations support a two-phase surface composition consisting of high albedo, high index of refraction inclusions with a small optical size scale embedded in a dark matrix material more closely related to C-complex asteroids. These results are consistent with the interpretation that the Barbarians are remnants of a population of primitive bodies that formed shortly after CAIs. Near-infrared polarimetry provides a direct test of the constituent grains of asteroid surfaces. “