Letter | Published:

Asteroid rotation rates depend on diameter and type

Nature volume 296, pages 418421 (01 April 1982) | Download Citation



The rotational frequency of main-belt asteroids is shown here to depend on both asteroidal type and diameter. If asteroids of any one diameter are considered, then, on average, M asteroids rotate faster than S asteroids which in turn rotate faster than C asteroids. This shows that asteroids which have been classified by their surface properties alone have different bulk properties. For all three types, although the dispersions of the frequencies are large, we prove that the mean frequency increases linearly with the mean diameter. In both the C and S plots of mean rotational frequency against mean diameter there are discontinuities at diameters 125 km and 105 km, respectively, which may differentiate primordial asteroids from their collisional products.

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  1. Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Space Sciences Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • Stanley F. Dermott
    •  & Carl D. Murray


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