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Orbits, masses, and evolution of main belt triple (87) Sylvia

  • Author(s): Fang, J;
  • Margot, JL;
  • Rojo, P
  • et al.

Sylvia is a triple asteroid system located in the main belt. We report new adaptive optics observations of this system that extend the baseline of existing astrometric observations to a decade. We present the first fully dynamical three-body model for this system by fitting to all available astrometric measurements. This model simultaneously fits for individual masses, orbits, and primary oblateness. We find that Sylvia is composed of a dominant central mass surrounded by two satellites orbiting at 706.5 ± 2.5km and 1357 ± 4.0km, i.e., about 5 and nearly 10 primary radii. We derive individual masses of 1.484+0.016- 0.014× 1019kg for the primary (corresponding to a density of 1.29 ± 0.39g cm-3), 7.33+4.7- 2.3× 1014kg for the inner satellite, and 9.32+20.7- 8.3× 1014kg for the outer satellite. The oblateness of the primary induces substantial precession and the J2value can be constrained to the range of 0.0985-0.1. The orbits of the satellites are relatively circular with eccentricities less than 0.04. The spin axis of the primary body and the orbital poles of both satellites are all aligned within about 2deg of each other, indicating a nearly coplanar configuration and suggestive of satellite formation in or near the equatorial plane of the primary. We also investigate the past orbital evolution of the system by simulating the effects of a recent passage through 3:1 mean-motion eccentricity-type resonances. In some scenarios this allow us to place constraints on interior structure and past eccentricities. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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