532 Herculina

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532 Herculina
Discovered by Max Wolf
Discovery time April 20, 1904
Other names 1904 NY
Group Main belt
Reference date 22 November 2003 (JD 2452600.5)
Longest distance from the Sun 3.26 AU
Shortest distance from the Sun 2.29 AU
Longest distance from the center of its orbital path
("semi-major axis")
2.7719820 AU
How egg-shaped its orbit is
How long it takes to complete an orbit 4.62 a
Average speed unknown
Mean anomaly 142.15781°
Angle above the reference plane
Longitude of where it comes up through the reference plane 107.65510°
Angle between its shortest distance from what it orbits around and where it comes up through the reference plane
("argument of periapsis")
Size and Other Qualities
Measures 225 km
Mass ~2.29×1019Kg [1]
Average density ~4 g/cm³[1]
Gravity at its surface unknown
Slowest speed able to escape into space
("escape velocity")
How long it takes to turn around one time 9.404951 h
How much light it reflects 0.16
Avg. surface temp. unknown
Light-band group
("spectral type")
Seeming brightness
("apparent magnitude")
8.82 to 11.99
True brightness
("absolute magnitude")
Seeming size
("angular diameter")
0.228" to 0.073"

532 Herculina (herr'-kew-lye'-nə, how to say: /ˈhɛrkjuˈlaɪnə/) is a very big asteroid, with a diameter of around 225 km.

Discovery[change | change source]

It was found on April 20th, 1904, by Max Wolf in Heidelberg, and initially catalogued as 1904 NY.[2] Where its name came from is not known; it may be named after the mythical Hercules, or after an unknown woman of that name. Most of the asteroids found by Wolf around this date were named for characters in operas, but if this name was also drawn from such a source, no explanation has been recorded.

Physical characteristics[change | change source]

Herculina is one of the twenty or so biggest members of the main asteroid belt.[3]

It has often been noted for its complex lightcurves, which made finding its shape and rotation somewhat hard. A set of 1982 speckle inferometry observations led to a simple preliminary model of Herculina as a three-axis object, perhaps 260 by 220 by 215 km. 1985 analysis of this data concluded there was a nonspherical shape with one bright spot, whilst a 1987 photometric astrometry study concluded the object was spherical with two dark spots (and rotated around a completely different pole), which was in turn negated by a 1988 thermal study which showed the object could not be spherical. By the late 1980s, the generally accepted model was a three-axis object with major albedo or topographical features.[4]

Recent (2002) modelling of photometric data shows that Herculina is not spherical, but a blocky shape not unlike a battered cuboid - or, as the analysis described it, it "resembles a toaster". This analysis indicates the presence of many big craters, similar to 253 Mathilde, but no major changes in albedo. The approximate ratios of the axes were suggested as 1:1.1:1.3, broadly consistent with earlier models if a bit more stretched.[5]

Moons[change | change source]

Following anomalous sightings during an occultation of the star SAO 1220774 in 1978, Herculina became the first asteroid to be "confirmed" to have an asteroid moon, with the parent asteroid estimated at a 216 km diameter and a moon of about 45 km orbiting at a distance of around 1,000 km.[6] However, careful studying in 1993, using the Hubble Space Telescope, could not locate a moon.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Masses and densities of minor planets - Yu. Chernetenko, O. Kochetova, and V. Shor
  2. Provisional elements of the minor planet 1904 NY. J. C. Hammond, Astronomical Journal, vol. 24, iss. 564, p. 105-105 (1904) ADS archive copy
  3. 20 Largest Asteroids
  4. Speckle interferometry of asteroids (NASA CR-180438). J. Drummond, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, May 31, 1988
  5. Models of Twenty Asteroids from Photometric Data. M. Kaasalainen, J. Torppa, and J. Piironen, Icarus 159, 369 – 395 (2002).
  6. Satellite of Minor Planet 532 Herculina Discovered During Occultation. David W. Dunham, The Minor Planet Bulletin, Volume 6, p.13-14 (December 1978) ADS archive copy
  7. Imaging observations of asteroids with Hubble Space Telescope. Storrs et al., Icarus 137, 260 – 268 (1999)

Other websites[change | change source]