A fast ellipsoid model for asteroids inverted from lightcurves

Xiao-Ping Lu, Hai-Bin Zhao, Zhong You


Research about asteroids has recently attracted more and more attention, especially focusing on their physical structures, such as their spin axis, rotation period and shape. The long distance between observers on Earth and asteroids makes it impossible to directly calculate the shape and other parameters of asteroids, with the exception of Near Earth Asteroids and others that have passed by some spacecrafts. Photometric measurements are still generally the main way to obtain research data on asteroids, i.e. the lightcurves recording the brightness and positions of asteroids. Supposing that the shape of the asteroid is a triaxial ellipsoid with a stable spin, a new method is presented in this article to reconstruct the shape models of asteroids from the lightcurves, together with other physical parameters. By applying a special curvature function, the method calculates the brightness integration on a unit sphere and Lebedev quadrature is employed for the discretization. Finally, the method searches for the optimal solution by the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm to minimize the residual of the brightness. By adopting this method, not only can related physical parameters of asteroids be obtained at a reasonable accuracy, but also a simple shape model of an ellipsoid can be generated for reconstructing a more sophisticated shape model.


ellipsoid model — lightcurves — photometric — shape: asteroids

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