Evidence for a color dependence in the size distribution of main-belt asteroids

Paul Wiegert, David Balam, Andrea Moss, Christian Veillet, Martin Connors, Ian Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of a project to detect small (∼1 km) main-belt asteroids with the 3.6 m Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. We observed in two filters (MegaPrime g′ and r′) in order to compare the results in each band. Owing to the observational cadence we did not observe the same asteroids through each filter and thus do not have true color information. However, strong differences in the size distributions as seen in the two filters point to a color dependence at these sizes, perhaps to be expected in this regime, in which asteroid cohesiveness begins to be dominated by physical strength and composition rather than by gravity. The best-fit slopes of the cumulative size distributions (CSDs) in both filters tend toward lower values for smaller asteroids, consistent with the results of previous studies. In addition to this trend, the size distributions seen in the two filters are distinctly different, with steeper slopes in r′ than in g′. Breaking our sample up according to semimajor axis, the difference between the filters in the inner belt is found to be somewhat less pronounced than in the middle and outer belt, but the CSD of those asteroids seen in the r′ filter is consistently and significantly steeper than in g′ throughout. The CSD slopes also show variations with semimajor axis within a given filter, particularly in r′. We conclude that the size distribution of main-belt asteroids is likely to be color-dependent at kilometer sizes and that this dependence may vary across the belt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1609-1614
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr. 2007


  • Minor planets, asteroids
  • Solar system: general


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