AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 120 Studies of Variable and Moving Objects with the SDSS
Special Session, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 10:00-11:30am, Royal Palm 1-3

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[120.06] Asteroid Colors and their Variability

M. Juric (Princeton U.), Z. Ivezic (U. Washington), R. H. Lupton (Princeton U.), G.M. Szabo (U. Szeged), T. Quinn (U. Washington), SDSS Collaboration

While orbital dynamics of asteroids has been studied in great detail, we are just beginning to get a better grasp of their physical properties. Recently, SDSS has reinvigorated the research of asteroid color properties by producing a large volume of accurate color and variability data, to about 3 magnitudes fainter completeness limit than available before. To date, SDSS has observed over 200,000 moving objects in five photometric bands, a 2.5 orders of magnitude increase over previous multicolor surveys. About 43,000 of those have been associated with previously known asteroids that have well determined orbital elements. The resulting catalog (``SDSSMOC'') can be downloaded from http://www.sdss.org/science/.

We will highlight some results enabled by SDSSMOC, such as the measurement of the main-belt asteroid size distribution to a significantly smaller size limit (<1 km) than possible before, a confirmation of the existence of a strong overall color gradient through the asteroid belt, and a demonstration that the colors of asteroids correlate with their dynamical family membership. We will also discuss the color variability of asteroids, interpreted as evidence for inhomogeneous albedo distribution over an asteroid's surface (``spottiness''), and the recent discovery of a color-age correlation which provides a direct evidence for space weathering, and offers a method to date asteroids using their SDSS colors.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.