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Collisional and Rotational Disruption of Asteroids

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Asteroids are leftover pieces from the era of planet formation that help us understand conditions in the early Solar System. Unlike larger planetary bodies that were subject to global thermal modification during and subsequent to their formation, these small bodies have kept at least some unmodified primordial material from the solar nebula. However, the structural properties of asteroids have been modified considerably since their formation. Thus, we can find among them a great variety of physical configurations and dynamical histories. In fact, with only a few possible exceptions, all asteroids have been modified or completely disrupted many times during the age of the Solar System. This picture is supported by data from space mission encounters with asteroids that show much diversity of shape, bulk density, surface morphology, and other features. Moreover, the gravitational attraction of these bodies is so small that some physical processes occur in a manner far removed from our common experience on Earth. Thus, each visit to a small body has generated as many questions as it has answered. In this review we discuss the current state of research into asteroid disruption processes, focusing on collisional and rotational mechanisms. We find that recent advances in modeling catastrophic disruption by collisions have provided important insights into asteroid internal structures and a deeper understanding of asteroid families. Rotational disruption, by tidal encounters or thermal effects, is responsible for altering many smaller asteroids, and is at the origin of many binary asteroids and oddly shaped bodies.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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  • ADVANCED SCIENCE LETTERS is an international peer-reviewed journal with a very wide-ranging coverage, consolidates research activities in all areas of (1) Physical Sciences, (2) Biological Sciences, (3) Mathematical Sciences, (4) Engineering, (5) Computer and Information Sciences, and (6) Geosciences to publish original short communications, full research papers and timely brief (mini) reviews with authors photo and biography encompassing the basic and applied research and current developments in educational aspects of these scientific areas.
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