Main-belt Asteroids with WISE/NEOWISE: Near-infrared Albedos

August 2014 • 2014ApJ...791..121M

Authors • Masiero, Joseph R. • Grav, T. • Mainzer, A. K. • Nugent, C. R. • Bauer, J. M. • Stevenson, R. • Sonnett, S.

Abstract • We present revised near-infrared albedo fits of 2835 main-belt asteroids observed by WISE/NEOWISE over the course of its fully cryogenic survey in 2010. These fits are derived from reflected-light near-infrared images taken simultaneously with thermal emission measurements, allowing for more accurate measurements of the near-infrared albedos than is possible for visible albedo measurements. Because our sample requires reflected light measurements, it undersamples small, low-albedo asteroids, as well as those with blue spectral slopes across the wavelengths investigated. We find that the main belt separates into three distinct groups of 6%, 16%, and 40% reflectance at 3.4 μm. Conversely, the 4.6 μm albedo distribution spans the full range of possible values with no clear grouping. Asteroid families show a narrow distribution of 3.4 μm albedos within each family that map to one of the three observed groupings, with the (221) Eos family being the sole family associated with the 16% reflectance 3.4 μm albedo group. We show that near-infrared albedos derived from simultaneous thermal emission and reflected light measurements are important indicators of asteroid taxonomy and can identify interesting targets for spectroscopic follow-up.


IPAC Authors


Joe Masiero

Associate Scientist