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Asteroid Families in the Koronis Zone

Students Sam Van Kooten and Hannah Pagel
Professor Larry Molnar, Calvin College
Tuesday, November 20, 3:45 p.m. SB110

The process of asteroid collisions is one of the most important processes shaping our solar system.  In the early solar system it led to accretion of planets.  Today it erodes the larger asteroids into ever smaller ones.  How does one model a collision physically?  And how can we test the conclusions of such a model?  To answer these questions, we are carrying out a multipart investigation of the statistical properties of asteroid families, groups of asteroids that are all pieces of a single collision.  We are focused on the Koronis Zone, a relatively isolated region of the asteroid belt in which one can more easily discover family boundaries.

We will discuss three aspects of this ongoing work: 1) Development of a multidimensional catalog rich enough to determine family membership for most asteroids; 2) Exploration of long term changes in orbital properties that may mask family membership; and 3) Application of our theoretical and observational tools to the specific cases of the Lundmarka and Raybatson families, examples of the power of our tools and of the variety of dynamic phenomena that must be taken into consideration.




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