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Abstract

Abstract

A review of observations and theories regarding binary asteroids and binary trans-Neptunian objects [collectively, binary minor planets (BMPs)] is presented. To date, these objects have been discovered using a combination of direct imaging, lightcurve analysis, and radar. They are found throughout the Solar System, and present a challenge for theorists modeling their formation in the context of Solar System evolution. The most promising models invoke rotational disruption for the smallest, shortest-lived objects (the asteroids nearest to Earth), consistent with the observed fast rotation of these bodies; impacts for the larger, longer-lived asteroids in the main belt, consistent with the range of size ratios of their components and slower rotation rates; and mutual capture for the distant, icy, trans-Neptunian objects, consistent with their large component separations and near-equal sizes. Numerical simulations have successfully reproduced key features of the binaries in the first two categories; the third remains to be investigated in detail.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.earth.32.101802.120208
2006-05-30
2024-06-25
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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