SW Res Inst, Dept Space Studies, Boulder, CO 80302 - USA
 Univ Estadual Paulista, UNESP, Grp Dinam Orbital & Planetol, BR-12516410 Guaratingueta, SP - Brazil
Total Affiliations: 2
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society;
APR 1 2016.
Web of Science Citations:
Asteroid families form as a result of large-scale collisions among main belt asteroids. The orbital distribution of fragments after a family-forming impact could inform us about their ejection velocities. Unfortunately, however, orbits dynamically evolve by a number of effects, including the Yarkovsky drift, chaotic diffusion, and gravitational encounters with massive asteroids, such that it is difficult to infer the ejection velocities eons after each family's formation. Here, we analyse the inclination distribution of asteroid families, because proper inclination can remain constant over long time intervals, and could help us to understand the distribution of the component of the ejection velocity that is perpendicular to the orbital plane (v(W)). From modelling the initial break up, we find that the distribution of v(W) of the fragments, which manage to escape the parent body's gravity, should be more peaked than a Gaussian distribution (i.e. be leptokurtic) even if the initial distribution was Gaussian. We surveyed known asteroid families for signs of a peaked distribution of v(W) using a statistical measure of the distribution peakedness or flatness known as kurtosis. We identified eight families whose v(W) distribution is significantly leptokurtic. These cases (e.g. the Koronis family) are located in dynamically quiet regions of the main belt, where, presumably, the initial distribution of v(W) was not modified by subsequent orbital evolution. We suggest that, in these cases, the inclination distribution can be used to obtain interesting information about the original ejection velocity field. (AU)