Characteristics and large bulk density of the C-type main-belt triple asteroid (93) Minerva

F. Marchis, F. Vachier, J. Ďurech, J. E. Enriquez, A. W. Harris, P. A. Dalba, J. Berthier, J. P. Emery, H. Bouy, J. Melbourne, A. Stockton, C. D. Fassnacht, T. J. Dupuy, J. Strajnic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


From a set of adaptive optics (AO) observations collected with the W.M. Keck telescope between August and September 2009, we derived the orbital parameters of the most recently discovered satellites of the large C-type asteroid (93) Minerva. The satellites of Minerva, which are approximately 3 and 4km in diameter, orbit very close to the primary (∼5 and ∼8×Rp and ∼1% and ∼2%×RHill) in a circular manner, sharing common characteristics with most of the triple asteroid systems in the main-belt. Combining these AO observations with lightcurve data collected since 1980 and two stellar occultations in 2010 and 2011, we removed the ambiguity of the pole solution of Minerva's primary and showed that it has an almost regular shape with an equivalent diameter Deq=154±6km in agreement with IRAS observations. The surprisingly high bulk density of 1.75±0.30g/cm3 for this C-type asteroid, suggests that this taxonomic class is composed of asteroids with different compositions, For instance, Minerva could be made of the same material as dry CR, CO, and CV meteorites. We discuss possible scenarios on the origin of the system and conclude that future observations may shine light on the nature and composition of this fifth known triple main-belt asteroid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-191
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive optics
  • Asteroids
  • Interiors
  • Orbit determination
  • Satellites of asteroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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