Asteroid family ages

Federica Spoto, Andrea Milani, Zoran Knežević

Icarus, available online 13 May 2015


A new family classification, based on a catalog of proper elements with ∼384,000∼384,000 numbered asteroids and on new methods is available. For the 45 dynamical families with >250>250 members identified in this classification, we present an attempt to obtain statistically significant ages: we succeeded in computing ages for 37 collisional families.

We used a rigorous method, including a least squares fit of the two sides of a V-shape plot in the proper semimajor axis, inverse diameter plane to determine the corresponding slopes, an advanced error model for the uncertainties of asteroid diameters, an iterative outlier rejection scheme and quality control. The best available Yarkovsky measurement was used to estimate a calibration of the Yarkovsky effect for each family. The results are presented separately for the families originated in fragmentation or cratering events, for the young, compact families and for the truncated, one-sided families. For all the computed ages the corresponding uncertainties are provided, and the results are discussed and compared with the literature. The ages of several families have been estimated for the first time, in other cases the accuracy has been improved. We have been quite successful in computing ages for old families, we have significant results for both young and ancient, while we have little, if any, evidence for primordial families. We found 2 cases where two separate dynamical families form together a single V-shape with compatible slopes, thus indicating a single collisional event. We have also found 3 examples of dynamical families containing multiple collisional families, plus a dubious case: for these we have obtained discordant slopes for the two sides of the V-shape, resulting in distinct ages. We have found 2 cases of families containing a conspicuous subfamily, such that it is possible to measure the slope of a distinct V-shape, thus the age of the secondary collision. We also provide data on the central gaps appearing in some families. The ages computed in this paper are obtained with a single and uniform methodology, thus the ages of different families can be compared, providing a first example of collisional chronology of the asteroid main belt.