Color confirmation of asteroid families

Željko Ivezić, Robert H. Lupton, Mario Jurić, Serge Tabachnik, Tom Quinn, James E. Gunn, Gillian R. Knapp, Constance M. Rockosi, Jonathan Brinkmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We discuss optical colors of 10,592 asteroids with known orbits selected from a sample of 58,000 moving objects observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This is more than 10 times larger than any sample that includes both orbital parameters and multiband photometric measurements previously available. We confirm that asteroid dynamical families, defined as clusters in orbital parameter space, also strongly segregate in color space. In particular, we demonstrate that the three major asteroid families (Eos, Koronis, and Themis) together with the Vesta family represent four main asteroid color types. Their distinctive optical colors indicate that the variations in chemical composition within a family are much smaller than the compositional differences between families, and they strongly support earlier suggestions that asteroids belonging to a particular family have a common origin. We estimate that over 90% of asteroids belong to families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2943-2948
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5 1763
StatePublished - Nov 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Minor planets, asteroids
  • Solar system: general


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