Department of Physics AstroLab

Asteroid Light Curve

The smaller asteroids in the Solar System are known to be non-spherical and rotating with periods in the range of a few hours to several days. As the asteroid rotates, as seen from the Earth, the observed cross-section changes causing the observed brightness to change.

          

The aim of the project is to measure the brightness variation of an asteroid in order to determine its rotation period. An example of the type of result that can be achieved is shown below.

This V-band light curve was derived from 256 60-sec exposures taken over a six hour period on 2004 March 14 of the asteroid (129) Antigone. The data has been folded about the known period of 0.20655 days

A moderately bright asteroid with a known short period (typically about 4 to 5 hours) that is well placed during the term can be targeted. The data taken on each night can be merged using the supplied "fast_solve" routine that effectively uses phase dispersion minimisation to find the period and to determine the run zero-point offsets. The amplitude range can be used to derive some basic shape information about the asteroid.

Previous studied asteroids for this project include

Term Asteroid RA          Dec Vmag
2002 Michaelmas 19  Eunomia 22 40.0  +09 37 8.8
2003 Michaelmas 174  Phaedra 23 46.7  +11 51 13.3
2004 Epiphany 129  Antigone 07 22.9  +17 19 11.8
2004 Michaelmas 849  Ara 21 42.3  +07 22 13.1
2004 Michaelmas 852  Wladilena 02 34.6  +28 15 12.6
2005 Epiphany 216  Kleopatra 07 42.7  +03 10 11.3
2005 Epiphany 762  Pulcova 05 47.0  +29 41 13.3
2005 Michaelmas 43  Ariadne 01 39.8  +15 20 10.9
2005 Michaelmas 686  Gersuind 23 43.8  +18 10 12.6
2006 Epiphany 16  Psyche 04 40.9  +19 02 10.9
2006 Epiphany 79  Eurynome 08 39.0  +10 48 11.0
2006 Michaelmas 337  Devosa 23 43.3  +03 28 12.4
2006 Michaelmas 54  Alexandra 03 13.0  +36 13 11.8
2006 Michaelmas 132  Aethra 01 25.0  +35 46 13.4
2007 Epiphany 44  Nysa 06 06.2  +21 43 9.9
2007 Epiphany 87  Sylvia 07 43.1  +31 56 12.7
2007 Michaelmas 584  Semiramis 03 26.1  +36 23 10.7
2008 Michaelmas 216  Kleopatra 23 09.7  +01 23 11.1
2009 Epiphany 129  Antigone 08 09.1  +18 20 11.6
2009 Michaelmas 762  Pulcova 01 56.3  +01 56 12.9
2010 Michaelmas 725  Amanda 01:33.4  +05:11 14.1
2010 Michaelmas 132  Aethra 00:00.7  +32:17 14.1
2011 Epiphany 55  Pandora 06:17.9  +32:35 12.5
2012 Michaelmas 771  Libera   
2012 Michaelmas 963  Iduberga   
2013 Michaelmas 174  Phaedra   
2014 Epiphany 125  Liberatrix
2014 Epiphany 1333  Cevenola
2014 Epiphany 337  Devosa
2014 Michaelmas 132  Aethra   
2014 Michaelmas 1103  Sequonia   
2015 Michaelmas 852  Wladilena   
2015 Michaelmas 939  Isberga   
2016 Epiphany 416  Vaticana
2016 Epiphany 423  Diotima

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