Eunomia (minor planet designation 15 Eunomia) is a very large asteroid in the inner asteroid belt. It is the largest of the stony (S-type) asteroids, and somewhere between the 8th- and 12th-largest main-belt asteroid overall (uncertainty in diameters causes uncertainty in its ranking). It is the largest Eunomian asteroid, and is estimated to contain 1% of the mass of the asteroid belt.
A three-dimensional model of 15 Eunomia based on its light curve
|Discovered by||Annibale de Gasparis|
|Discovery date||July 29, 1851|
|MPC designation||(15) Eunomia|
|Main belt, (Eunomia family)|
|Epoch June 14, 2006 (JD 2453900.5)|
|Aphelion||3.138 AU (469.429 Gm)|
|Perihelion||2.149 AU (321.429 Gm)|
|2.643 AU (395.429 Gm)|
|4.30 yr (1569.687 d)|
268 km (mean)
330×245×205 255.3 ± 15 km (IRAS)
|Mass||3.12 ×1019 kg|
|3.14 ± 0.53 g/cm³|
(based on IRAS diameter of 255km)
|0.2535 d (6.083 h)|
|7.9 to 11.24|
|0.29" to 0.085"|
As the largest S-type asteroid (with 3 Juno being a very close second), Eunomia has attracted a moderate amount of scientific attention. It contains slightly over one percent of the mass of the entire asteroid belt.
Eunomia appears to be an elongated but fairly regularly shaped body, with what appear to be four sides of differing curvature and noticeably different average compositions. Its elongation led to the suggestion that Eunomia may be a binary object, but this has been refuted. It is a retrograde rotator with its pole pointing towards ecliptic coordinates (β, λ) = (−65°, 2°) with a 10° uncertainty. This gives an axial tilt of about 165°.
Like other true members of the family, its surface is composed of silicates and some nickel-iron, and is quite bright. Calcium-rich pyroxenes and olivine, along with nickel-iron metal, have been detected on Eunomia's surface. Spectroscopic studies suggest that Eunomia has regions with differing compositions: A larger region dominated by olivine, which is pyroxene-poor and metal-rich, and another somewhat smaller region on one hemisphere (the less pointed end) that is noticeably richer in pyroxene, and has a generally basaltic composition.
This composition indicates that the parent body was likely subject to magmatic processes, and became at least partially differentiated under the influence of internal heating in the early period of the Solar System. The range of compositions of the remaining Eunomian asteroids, formed by a collision of the common parent body, is large enough to encompass all the surface variations on Eunomia itself. The majority of smaller Eunomian asteroids are more pyroxene rich than Eunomia's surface, and contain very few metallic (M-type) bodies.
Altogether, these lines of evidence suggest that Eunomia is the central remnant of the parent body of the Eunomia family, which was stripped of most of its crustal material by the disrupting impact, but was perhaps not disrupted itself. However, there is uncertainty over Eunomia's internal structure and relationship to the parent body. Computer simulations of the collision are more consistent with Eunomia being a re-accumulation of most of the fragments of a completely shattered parent body, yet Eunomia's quite high density would indicate that it is not a rubble pile after all. Whatever the case in this respect, it appears that any metallic core region, if present, has not been exposed.
An older explanation of the compositional differences, that Eunomia is a mantle fragment of a far larger parent body (with a bit of crust on one end, and a bit of core on the other), appears to be ruled out by studies of the mass distribution of the entire Eunomia family. These indicate that the largest fragment (that is, Eunomia) has about 70% of the mass of the parent body, which is consistent with Eunomia being a central remnant, with the crust and part of the mantle stripped off.
These indications are also in accord with recent mass determinations which indicate that Eunomia's density is typical of mostly intact stony asteroids, and not the anomalously low "rubble pile" density of ~1 g/cm³ that had been reported earlier.
The orbit of 15 Eunomia places it in a 7:16 mean-motion resonance with the planet Mars. Eunomia is used by the Minor Planet Center to calculate perturbations. The computed Lyapunov time for this asteroid is 25,000 years, indicating that it occupies a chaotic orbit that will change randomly over time because of gravitational perturbations of the planets.
- One of the hidden levels in the videogame Descent is an expedition to a secret mine station on asteroid Eunomia.
- Eunomia is mentioned as one of the five largest asteroids in the science-fiction novel Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.
- In the science-fiction novel Space Apprentice by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, 15 Eunomia is nearly completely annihilated by physicists and astrophysicists who experimentally test models of cosmology and general theory of relativity. One episode shows the study of gravitational waves at the expense of a chunk of Eunomia the size of Everest.
- 15 Eunomia is the inspiration for the look of the heptapod ships in Arrival.
- "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 15 Eunomia". 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Jim Baer (2008). "Recent Asteroid Mass Determinations". Personal Website. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Baer, James; Steven R. Chesley (2008). "Astrometric masses of 21 asteroids, and an integrated asteroid ephemeris" (PDF). Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007. 100 (2008): 27–42. Bibcode:2008CeMDA.100...27B. doi:10.1007/s10569-007-9103-8. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
- Nathues, A.; et al.; (2005); Spectral study of the Eunomia asteroid family—I. Eunomia, Icarus, Vol. 175, p. 452
- Tanga, P.; et al.; (2003); Asteroid observations with the Hubble Space Telescope; Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol. 401, p. 733
- Vitagliano, Aldo; Reiner M. Stoss (2006). "New mass determination of (15) Eunomia based on a very close encounter with (50278) 2000CZ12". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 455 (3): L29–L31. Bibcode:2006A&A...455L..29V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20065760.
- Planetary Data System (PDS) lightcurve data Archived June 14, 2006, at Archive.today
- Donald H. Menzel & Jay M. Pasachoff (1983). A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. p. 391. ISBN 0-395-34835-8.
- Pitjeva, E. V. (2005). "High-Precision Ephemerides of Planets—EPM and Determination of Some Astronomical Constants" (PDF). Solar System Research. 39 (3): 176. Bibcode:2005SoSyR..39..176P. doi:10.1007/s11208-005-0033-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.: Eunomia 0.164E−11 solar masses; asteroid belt 15E−11 solar masses → 1.1%.
- Reed, K. L.; Gaffey, M. J.; and Lebofsky, L. A.; (1997); Shape and Albedo Variations of Asteroid 15 Eunomia, Icarus, Vol. 125, p. 446
- Michel, P.; Benz, W.; and Richardson, D. C.; (2001); Catastrophic disruption of pre-shattered parent bodies, Icarus, Vol. 168, p. 420
- Tanga, P.; et al.; (1999); On the Size Distribution of Asteroid Families: The Role of Geometry, Icarus, Vol. 141, p. 65
- Tanga, P.; Hestroffer, D.; Cellino, A.; Lattanzi, M.; Martino, M. Di; Zappalà, V. (2003-04-01). "Asteroid observations with the Hubble Space Telescope FGS". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 401 (2): 733–741. Bibcode:2003A&A...401..733T. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20030032. ISSN 0004-6361.
- "Perturbing Bodies". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Šidlichovský, M. (1999), Svoren, J.; Pittich, E. M.; Rickman, H. (eds.), "Resonances and chaos in the asteroid belt", Evolution and source regions of asteroids and comets : proceedings of the 173rd colloquium of the International Astronomical Union, held in Tatranska Lomnica, Slovak Republic, August 24–28, 1998, pp. 297–308, Bibcode:1999esra.conf..297S.
- The Brightest Asteroids Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
- "JPL Close-Approach Data: 50278 (2000 CZ12)". 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- shape model deduced from lightcurve, including composition variations across the surface
- JPL Ephemeris
- "Elements and Ephemeris for (15) Eunomia". Minor Planet Center. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2011. (displays Elong from Sun and V mag for 2011)
- 15 Eunomia at AstDyS-2, Asteroids—Dynamic Site
- 15 Eunomia at the JPL Small-Body Database