New insights on the binary Asteroid 121 Hermione

P. Descamps, F. Marchis, J. Durech, J. Emery, A. W. Harris, M. Kaasalainen, J. Berthier, J. P. Teng-Chuen-Yu, A. Peyrot, L. Hutton, J. Greene, J. Pollock, M. Assafin, R. Vieira-Martins, J. I.B. Camargo, F. Braga-Ribas, F. Vachier, D. E. Reichart, K. M. Ivarsen, J. A. CrainM. C. Nysewander, A. P. Lacluyze, J. B. Haislip, R. Behrend, F. Colas, J. Lecacheux, L. Bernasconi, R. Roy, P. Baudouin, L. Brunetto, S. Sposetti, F. Manzini

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30 Scopus citations


We report on the results of a 6-month photometric study of the main-belt binary C-type Asteroid 121 Hermione, performed during its 2007 opposition. We took advantage of the rare observational opportunity afforded by one of the annual equinoxes of Hermione occurring close to its opposition in June 2007. The equinox provides an edge-on aspect for an Earth-based observer, which is well suited to a thorough study of Hermione's physical characteristics. The catalog of observations carried out with small telescopes is presented in this work, together with new adaptive optics (AO) imaging obtained between 2005 and 2008 with the Yepun 8-m VLT telescope and the 10-m Keck telescope. The most striking result is confirmation that Hermione is a bifurcated and elongated body, as suggested by Marchis, et al. [Marchis, F., Hestroffer, D., Descamps, P., Berthier, J., Laver, C., de Pater, I., 2005. Icarus 178, 450-464]. A new effective diameter of 187 ± 6 km was calculated from the combination of AO, photometric and thermal observations. The new diameter is some 10% smaller than the hitherto accepted radiometric diameter based on IRAS data. The reason for the discrepancy is that IRAS viewed the system almost pole-on. New thermal observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope agree with the diameter derived from AO and lightcurve observations. On the basis of the new AO astrometric observations of the small 32-km diameter satellite we have refined the orbit solution and derived a new value of the bulk density of Hermione of 1.4 + 0.5/-0.2 g cm-3. We infer a macroscopic porosity of ∼33 + 5/-20%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-101
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Asteroids, rotation, surfaces
  • Eclipses
  • Photometry
  • Satellites of Asteroids


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