Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Marzari F., Rossi A., Scheeres D. J. Combined effect of YORP and collisions on the rotation rate of small Main Belt asteroids. In: Icarus, vol. 214 (2) pp. 622 - 631. Elsevier, 2011.
The rotation rate distribution of small Main Belt asteroids is dominated by YORP and collisions. These mechanism act differently depending on the size of the bodies and give rise to non-linear effects when they both operate. Using a Monte Carlo method we model the formation of a steady state population of small asteroids under the influence of both mechanisms and the rotation rate distribution is compared to the observed one as derived from Pravec et al. (Pravec, P. et al. [2008]. Icarus 197, 497504). A better match to observations is obtained with respect to the case in which only YORP is considered. In particular, an excess of slow rotators is produced in the model with both collisions and YORP because bodies driven to slow rotation by YORP have a random walk-like evolution of the spin induced by repeated collisions with small projectiles. This is a dynamical evolution different from tumbling and it lasts until a large impact takes the body to a faster rotation rate. According to our model, the rotational fission of small asteroids is a very frequent event and might explain objects like P/2010 A2 and its associated tail of millimeter-sized dust particles. The mass loss during fission of small asteroids might significantly influence the overall collisional evolution of the belt. Fission can in fact be considered as an additional erosion mechanism, besides cratering and fragmentation, acting only at small diameters.
URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103511002065
DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2011.05.033
Subject Asteroids
Rotational dynamics
YORP effect
J.2 Physical Sciences and Engineering
70M20 Orbital mechanics

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