Mineralogy and thermal properties of V-type Asteroid 956 Elisa: Evidence for diogenitic material from the Spitzer IRS (5-35μm) spectrum

Lucy F. Lim, Joshua P. Emery, Nicholas A. Moskovitz

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25 Scopus citations


We present the thermal infrared (5-35μm) spectrum of 956 Elisa as measured by the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (" IRS" ; Houck, J.R. et al. [2004]. Astrophys. J. Suppl. 154, 18-24) together with new groundbased lightcurve data and near-IR spectra. From the visible lightcurve photometry, we determine a rotation period of 16.494±0.001h, identify the rotational phase of the Spitzer observations, and estimate the visible absolute magnitude (HV) at that rotational phase to be 12.58±0.04. From radiometric analysis of the thermal flux spectrum, we find that at the time of observation 956 Elisa had a projected radius of 5.3±0.4km with a visible albedo pV=0.142±0.022, significantly lower than that of the prototype V-type asteroid, 4 Vesta. (This corresponds to a radius of 5.2±0.4km at lightcurve mean.) Analysis with the standard thermal model (STM) results in a sub-solar temperature of 292.3± 2.8 K and beaming parameter η=1.16±0.05. Thermophysical modeling places a lower limit of 20Jm-2K-1s-12 on the thermal inertia of the asteroid's surface layer (if the surface is very smooth) but more likely values fall between 30 and 150Jm-2K-1s-12 depending on the sense of rotation. The emissivity spectrum, calculated by dividing the measured thermal flux spectrum by the modeled thermal continuum, exhibits mineralogically interpretable spectral features within the 9-12μm reststrahlen band, the 15-16.5μm Si-O-Si stretching region, and the 16-25μm reststrahlen region that are consistent with pyroxene of diogenitic composition: extant diogenitic pyroxenes fall within the narrow compositional range Wo2±1En74±2Fs24±1. Spectral deconvolution of the 9-12μm reststrahlen features indicates that up to ≈20% olivine may also be present, suggesting an olivine-diogenite-like mineralogy. The mid-IR spectrum is inconsistent with non-cumulate eucrite as the major component on the surface of 956 Elisa, although cumulate eucrite material may be present at abundances lower than that of the diogenite component. Analysis of new near-IR spectra of 956 Elisa with the Modified Gaussian Model (MGM; Sunshine, J.M., Pieters, C.M., Pratt, S.F. [1990]. J. Geophys. Res. 95 (May), 6955-6966) results in two pyroxene compositions: 75% magnesian low-Ca pyroxene and 25% high-Ca pyroxene. High-Ca pyroxene is not evident in the mid-IR data, but may belong to a component that is underrepresented in the mid-IR spectrum either because of its spatial distribution on the asteroid or because of its particle size. High-Ca pyroxenes that occur as exsolution lamellae may also be more evident spectrally in the NIR than in the mid-IR. In any case, we find that the mid-IR spectrum of 956 Elisa is dominated by emission from material of diogenite-like composition, which has very rarely been observed among asteroids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-523
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids, Composition
  • Asteroids, Surfaces
  • Infrared observations
  • Mineralogy
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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