A Caltech Library Service

The Albedo Distribution of Near Earth Asteroids

Wright, Edward L. and Mainzer, Amy and Masiero, Joseph and Grav, Tommy and Bauer, James (2016) The Albedo Distribution of Near Earth Asteroids. Astronomical Journal, 152 (4). Art. No. 79. ISSN 1538-3881. doi:10.3847/0004-6256/152/4/79.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The cryogenic Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission in 2010 was extremely sensitive to asteroids and not biased against detecting dark objects. The albedos of 428 near Earth asteroids (NEAs) observed by WISE during its fully cryogenic mission can be fit quite well by a three parameter function that is the sum of two Rayleigh distributions. The Rayleigh distribution is zero for negative values, and follows f(x) = x exp[-x^2/2σ^2)]/σ^2 for positive x. The peak value is at x = σ, so the position and width are tied together. The three parameters are the fraction of the objects in the dark population, the position of the dark peak, and the position of the brighter peak. We find that 25.3% of the NEAs observed by WISE are in a very dark population peaking at p_V = 0.030, while the other 74.7% of the NEAs seen by WISE are in a moderately dark population peaking at p_V = 0.168. A consequence of this bimodal distribution is that the congressional mandate to find 90% of all NEAs larger than 140 m diameter cannot be satisfied by surveying to H = 22 mag, since a 140 m diameter asteroid at the very dark peak has H = 23.7 mag, and more than 10% of NEAs are darker than p_V = 0.03.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Wright, Edward L.0000-0001-5058-1593
Masiero, Joseph0000-0003-2638-720X
Grav, Tommy0000-0002-3379-0534
Additional Information:© 2016 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 May 6; revised 2016 June 22; accepted 2016 June 23; published 2016 September 9. This publication makes use of data products from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The WISE data were all provided by the Infrared Science Archive at Caltech. Facility: WISE - Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:minor planets, asteroids: general
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160913-103110725
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Edward L. Wright et al 2016 The Astronomical Journal 152 79
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70302
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Sep 2016 15:23
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page