Rotationally time-resolved vis-spectroscopy of (3200) Phaethon [EPA]

Apollo-type NEA (3200) Phaethon, classified at the B/F-type taxonomy, probably the main mass of the Phaethon-Geminid stream complex (PGC), can be the most metamorphic C-complex asteroid in our solar system, since it is heated up to ~1000 K by the solar radiation around its perihelion passages. Hence, its surface material may be easily decomposed in near-sun environment. Phaethon’s spectrum exhibits extremely blue-slope in the VIS-NIR region (so-called Phaethon Blue). Another candidate large member of the PGC, (155140) 2005 UD, shows a B/F-type color, however with a C-type-like red color over its ~1/4 rotational part, which implies an exposition of less metamorphosed primordial internal structure of the PGC precursor by a splitting or breakup event long ago. If so, some rotational part of Phaethon should show the C-type color as well as 2005 UD. Hence, we carried out the time-series VIS-spectroscopic observations of Phaethon using 1-m telescope in order to detect such a signature. Also, R-band photometries were simultaneously performed in order to complement our spectroscopy. Consequently, we obtained a total of 68 VIS-spectrophotometric data, 78% of which show the B-type blue-color, as against the rest of 22% showing the C-type red-color. We successfully acquired rotationally time-resolved spectroscopic data, of which particular rotational phase shows a red-spectral slope as the C-type color, as 2005 UD does, suggesting longitudinal inhomogeneity on Phaethon’s surface. We constrained this C-type red-colored area in the mid-latitude in Phaethon’s southern hemisphere based on the rotationally time-resolved spectroscopy along with Phaethon’s axial rotation state, of which size suggests the impact-induced origin of the PGC. We also surveyed the meteoritic analog of Phaethon’s surface blue-color, and found thermally metamorphosed CI/CM chondrites as likely candidates.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Kinoshita, K. Ohtsuka, T. Ito, et. al.
Thu, 2 Mar 17

Comments: 63 pages, 9 figures, 7 tables, submitted to The Astrophysical Journal