Rotational Properties of the Maria Asteroid Family

The Maria family is regarded as an old-type (~3 ± 1 Gyr) asteroid family that has experienced substantial collisional and dynamical evolution in the main belt. It is located near the 3:1 Jupiter mean-motion resonance area that supplies near-Earth asteroids to the inner solar system.

We carried out observations of Maria family asteroids during 134 nights from 2008 July to 2013 May and derived synodic rotational periods for 51 objects, including newly obtained periods of 34 asteroids. We found that there is a significant excess of fast and slow rotators in the observed rotation rate distribution. The one-sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test confirms that the spin rate distribution is not consistent with a Maxwellian at a 92% confidence level. From correlations among rotational periods, amplitudes of light curves, and sizes, we conclude that the rotational properties of Maria family asteroids have been changed considerably by non-gravitational forces such as the YORP effect.

Using a light-curve inversion method, we successfully determined the pole orientations for 13 Maria members and found an excess of prograde versus retrograde spins with a ratio (Np/Nr) of 3. This implies that the retrograde rotators could have been ejected by the 3:1 resonance into the inner solar system since the formation of the Maria family. We estimate that approximately 37-75 Maria family asteroids larger than 1 km have entered near-Earth space every 100 Myr.

For details, see Kim et al. 2014, AJ, 147, 56 or ArXiv:1311.5318