The Potential of Extreme Adaptive Optics Systems for Asteroid Studies

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 3:16 PM
Franck Marchis and David Vega, SETI Institute Mountain View, Mountain View, CA, United States
New Adaptive optics (AO) systems, called Extreme AO systemsare becoming available this year on two 8m-class telescopes. Both the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) on the Gemini South Telescope and SPHERE on the Very Large Telescope provide an almost perfect correction of the atmospheric turbulences and are equipped with low-resolution integral field spectrograph and a polarimeter.

We will present the analysis of observations of (2) Pallas which was observed with GPI in direct imaging (without coronagraph) on March 22 2014 in Y, J, H, and K1 filters (from 0.95 to 2.19 μm) spectroscopically with a resolution varying from 34 to 70. The 540-km asteroid is well resolved and irregular. An ellipse of 540±9 mas and 470±9 mas fits its silhouette. The surface of the asteroid is mostly featureless but small differences of colors is currently being analyzed. No moons with a diameter larger than 0.5 km and at less than 1.2" were detected on these observations.

We will discuss the future contributions of these Extreme AO systems, including SPHERE most recent observations, for the study of large main-belt asteroids addressing the number of targets that can be observed and comparing their on-sky efficiency with previous AO systems. Key scientific questions such as the possible differentiation of the primary of multiple asteroids (e.g. 45 Eugenia by Beauvalet and Marchis, Icarus, 2014 or 87 Sylvia in Berthier et al., Icarus, 2014), and the origin of these systems by comparison of the color of the moons and the primary (e.g. Marchis et al., AGU 2013) could be answered through intensive surveys conducted with these new AO systems.