Optical spectropolarimetry of large C-complex asteroids: polarimetric evidence for heterogeneous surface compositionsOPEN ACCESS 

Yuna G. Kwon, Stefano Bagnulo, Alberto Cellino

Accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics


“This study presents the first optical spectropolarimetric study of large C-complex asteroids. A total of 64 C-complex asteroids of different subclasses are analyzed using archival polarimetric and reflectance data to refine the link between polarimetric parameters and surface properties of the asteroids. We find a consistent difference in the polarization spectra between asteroids containing phyllosilicates and those without, which correlates with the overall morphology of the reflectance spectrum. They exhibit broad similarities in polarization-phase curves; nonetheless, we observe a gradual enhancement of the negative polarization branch in the ascending order of F-B-T-Ch types, along with an increase in reflectance curvature around 500 nm. Our observations suggest at least for large C-complex asteroids a common mechanism underlies the diversity in optical properties. The observed trends would be explained by the surface composition of the asteroids, particularly optical heterogeneity caused by carbon’s varying levels of optical influence, primarily regulated by aqueous alteration of the surfaces.”