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944 Hidalgo (/hɪˈdælɡ/ hi-DAL-goh), provisional designation 1920 HZ, is a centaur and unusual object on an eccentric, cometary-like orbit between the asteroid belt and the outer Solar System, approximately 52 kilometers (32 miles) in diameter. Discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade in 1920, it is the first member of the dynamical class of centaurs ever to be discovered. The dark D-type object has a rotation period of 10.1 hours and likely an elongated shape.[8] It was named after Mexican revolutionary Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.[2]

944 Hidalgo
Animation of 944 Hidalgo's movement over 5 minutes in 2003, taken by the Very Large Telescope.
Discovery [1]
Discovered byW. Baade
Discovery siteBergedorf Obs.
Discovery date31 October 1920
MPC designation(944) Hidalgo
Pronunciation/hɪˈdælɡ/ hi-DAL-goh
Named after
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
(Mexican revolutionary)[2]
1920 HZ · A920 UB
centaur [3] · main-belt[1]
Orbital characteristics[3]
Epoch 27 April 2019 (JD 2458600.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc97.97 yr (35,784 d)
Aphelion9.5345 AU
Perihelion1.9474 AU
5.7410 AU
13.76 yr (5,024 d)
0° 4m 18.12s / day
Jupiter MOID0.3285 AU
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter
52.45±3.60 km[6][5]
61.4±12.7 km[7]
10.063±0.0003 h[8][a]
Tholen = D[3][9]


Discovery and namingEdit

Hidalgo was discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade on 31 October 1920 at Bergedorf Observatory in Hamburg, Germany.[1] It is named for Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753–1811), who was responsible for declaring Mexico's independence in 1810 and the ensuing Mexican War of Independence. German astronomers who were in Mexico to observe a total eclipse on 10 September 1923 had an audience with President Álvaro Obregón. During this meeting, they asked his permission to name the asteroid after Hidalgo (AN 221, 159 from 1924).[2]

Orbit and classificationEdit

Orbital diagram of Hidalgo

Hidalgo orbits the Sun at a distance of 1.9–9.5 AU once every 13 years and 9 months (5,024 days; semi-major axis of 5.74 AU). Its orbit has a high eccentricity of 0.66 and an inclination of 43° with respect to the ecliptic.[3] The body's observation arc begins with its official discovery observation on 31 October 1920.[1]

With a semi-major axis between that of Jupiter (5.2 AU) and Neptune (30.1 AU), Hidalgo is a member of the dynamically unstable population of centaurs, located between the classical asteroids and the trans-Neptunian objects.[3] The Minor Planet Center classifies it both as main-belt asteroid and unusual object due to an orbital eccentricity higher than 0.5.[1][4][5] Hidalgo has traditionally been considered an asteroid because centaurs were not recognized as a distinct class until the discovery of 2060 Chiron in 1977. Alternatively, cis-Neptunian object and distant object are more generic terms that also includes objects further out the Solar System.

Hidalgo's orbit takes it to the inner edge of the asteroid belt and as far out as to the orbit of Saturn (9.0–10.1 AU), a characteristic normally associated with Saturn's family of comets. Some astronomers therefore suspect that it was once a comet. It is a Jupiter- and Saturn-crosser. Strictly speaking, Hidalgo is a Saturn-grazer rather than a crosser as its aphelion does not clear Saturn's. The object's severe orbital inclination is suspected to be the result of a close encounter with Jupiter. Even as recently as 1922, Hidalgo passed within 0.89 AU of Jupiter.[10] Its orbit has a Jupiter minimum orbit intersection distance of only 0.33 AU (49,000,000 km; 31,000,000 mi).[3]

It is unlikely there are any large satellites orbiting Hidalgo larger than about 15 kilometers across. Observations from the Very Large Telescope in 2003 ruled out any secondary objects brighter than V=19.5 further than 200 kilometers from the asteroid. However, smaller moons have not been ruled out.

Physical characteristicsEdit

In the Tholen and Bus–DeMeo classification, Hidalgo is a dark, carbonaceous D-type asteroid.[3][9]

According to the surveys carried out by the Japanese Akari satellite and the NEOWISE mission of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Hidalgo measures 52.45 and 61.4 kilometers in diameter and its surface has a low albedo of 0.042 and 0.028, respectively.[6][7] The prominent JPL Small-Body Database currently gives a diameter of 38 kilometers taken from the publication Hazards due to Comets and Asteroids (Tom Gehrels, 1994).[3][11] The Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link assumes a standard albedo for a carbonaceous asteroid of 0.057 and derives a diameter of 44.6 km based on an absolute magnitude of 10.48,[8] while Johntson's archvie adopts Akari's diameter of 52 km with an albedo of 0.042.[5]

In the late 1990s, a network of astronomers worldwide gathered lightcurve data that was ultimately used to derive the spin states and shape models of 10 new asteroids, including Hidalgo. The authors describe the shape model as having 'very large flat areas and a "rectangular" pole-on silhouette, which are strong indications of a highly nonconvex shape'. Some of the light curves show sharp minima, which indicates the object shape may have two lobes.[12] Lightcurve data has also been recorded by observers at the Antelope Hills Observatory (H09) in Colorado, United States.[a] When Pluto was discovered Hidalgo was the furthest known minor planet from the Sun.[13]


  1. ^ a b Lightcurve plot of (944) Hidalgo by Robert A. Koff (William Koff) at the Antelope Hills Observatory, Colorado (H09); Rotation period 10.06 hours with a brightness amplitude of 0.31 mag. Quality code is 3. Summary figures at the LCDB.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "944 Hidalgo (A920 UB)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(944) Hidalgo". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (944) Hidalgo. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 83. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_945. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 944 Hidalgo (A920 UB)" (2018-10-21 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b "List Of Other Unusual Objects". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Johnston, Wm. Robert (7 October 2018). "List of Known Trans-Neptunian Objects". Johnston's Archive. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Usui, Fumihiko; Kuroda, Daisuke; Müller, Thomas G.; Hasegawa, Sunao; Ishiguro, Masateru; Ootsubo, Takafumi; et al. (October 2011). "Asteroid Catalog Using Akari: AKARI/IRC Mid-Infrared Asteroid Survey". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. 63 (5): 1117–1138. Bibcode:2011PASJ...63.1117U. doi:10.1093/pasj/63.5.1117. Retrieved 27 November 2018. (online, AcuA catalog p. 153)
  7. ^ a b c Licandro, J.; Alí-Lagoa, V.; Tancredi, G.; Fernández, Y. (January 2016). "Size and albedo distributions of asteroids in cometary orbits using WISE data". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 585: 12. arXiv:1510.02282. Bibcode:2016A&A...585A...9L. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201526866.
  8. ^ a b c "LCDB Data for (944) Hidalgo". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Asteroid 944 Hidalgo". Small Bodies Data Ferret. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  10. ^ "JPL Close-Approach Data: 944 Hidalgo (1920 HZ)" (2018-10-21 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  11. ^ Tom Gehrels (1994). Hazards due to Comets and Asteroids. University of Arizona Press. pp. 540–543. ISBN 978-0816515059. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  12. ^ Durech, J.; Kaasalainen, M.; Marciniak, A.; Allen, W. H.; Behrend, R.; Bembrick, C.; et al. (April 2007). "Physical models of ten asteroids from an observers' collaboration network". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 465 (1): 331–337. Bibcode:2007A&A...465..331D. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066347. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  13. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Search Engine". JPL Solar System Dynamics. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2008. (characteristic:a>5.7)

External linksEdit