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Asteroid Trails in Hubble Space Telescope1 WFPC2 Images: First Results

Evans, Robin W. and Stapelfeldt, Karl R. and Peters, Daniel P. and Trauger, John T. and Padgett, Deborah L. and Ballester, Gilda E. and Burrows, Christopher J. and Clarke, John T. and Crisp, David and Gallagher, Jay S. and Griffiths, Richard E. and Grillmair, Carl and Hester, J. Jeff and Hoessel, John G. and Holtzman, Jon and Krist, John and McMaster, Matthew and Meadows, Vikki and Mould, Jeremy R. and Ostrander, Eric and Sahai, Raghvendra and Scowen, Paul A. and Watson, Alan M. and Westphal, James (1998) Asteroid Trails in Hubble Space Telescope1 WFPC2 Images: First Results. Icarus, 131 (2). pp. 261-282. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1006/icar.1997.5873.

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Careful examination of 28,460 selected Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) long exposures from 1994, 1995, and early 1996 has revealed trails of 96 distinct moving objects. They have been reported to the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Minor Planet Center for their asteroid database and a few have been identified with known asteroids and used to update their orbits. Most of the objects are new, as they are too faint to show up on ground-based surveys. The trails often show a characteristic curvature due to the parallax induced by HST's orbital motion during the exposures. Using ephemerides for HST, the distance to each object can be directly determined from the parallax contribution to the trail shapes. Based on these distances, constraints on the orbits, and photometry of the trails (16 <V< 24), most of the moving objects appear to be small, main-belt asteroids a few km in diameter. A few are known objects—three are potential Mars crossers. Modern wide-field CCD surveys detect asteroids nearly as faint as these (V< 21), but the corresponding absolute magnitudes are uncertain unless their orbits have been established. The detected objects span the absolute magnitude range 13.6 <H< 19.3 (His the symbol for absolute magnitude, not H-band). Statistics of the detections imply a reservoir of (3.1 ± 0.6) × 10^5such asteroids within 25° of the ecliptic. We find that the slope of the cumulative distribution of absolute magnitudes follows a power law N ∝ H^(0.2)to N ∝ H^(0.3)over this absolute magnitude range in the three distance ranges defined by the Palomar–Leiden survey. These are significantly shallower slopes than those inferred by the Palomar–Leiden survey or extrapolated from population studies of larger asteroids.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Stapelfeldt, Karl R.0000-0002-2805-7338
Padgett, Deborah L.0000-0001-5334-5107
Crisp, David0000-0002-4573-9998
Grillmair, Carl0000-0003-4072-169X
Mould, Jeremy R.0000-0003-3820-1740
Additional Information:© 1998 Academic Press. Received January 3, 1997; revised September 8, 1997. The authors thank Brian Marsden and Gareth Williams for help in identifying and checking our work on some of these objects and Eleanor Helin and David Rabinowitz for helpful discussions. This work is being carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under Contract NAS7-918 with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:asteroids; Hubble Space Telescope
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141203-120216215
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Official Citation:Robin W Evans, Karl R Stapelfeldt, Daniel P Peters, John T Trauger, Deborah L Padgett, Gilda E Ballester, Christopher J Burrows, John T Clarke, David Crisp, Jay S Gallagher, Richard E Griffiths, Carl Grillmair, J.Jeff Hester, John G Hoessel, Jon Holtzmann, John Krist, Matthew McMaster, Vikki Meadows, Jeremy R Mould, Eric Ostrander, Raghvendra Sahai, Paul A Scowen, Alan M Watson, James Westphal, Asteroid Trails in Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 Images: First Results, Icarus, Volume 131, Issue 2, February 1998, Pages 261-282, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:52333
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:03 Dec 2014 21:58
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:24

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