Collisional history of Ryugu’s parent body from bright surface boulders

E. Tatsumi, C. Sugimoto, L. Riu, S. Sugita, T. Nakamura, T. Hiroi, T. Morota, M. Popescu, T. Michikami, K. Kitazato, M. Matsuoka, S. Kameda, R. Honda, M. Yamada, N. Sakatani, T. Kouyama, Y. Yokota, C. Honda, H. Suzuki, Y. ChoK. Ogawa, M. Hayakawa, H. Sawada, K. Yoshioka, C. Pilorget, M. Ishida, D. Domingue, N. Hirata, S. Sasaki, J. de León, M. A. Barucci, P. Michel, M. Suemitsu, T. Saiki, S. Tanaka, F. Terui, S. Nakazawa, S. Kikuchi, T. Yamaguchi, N. Ogawa, G. Ono, Y. Mimasu, K. Yoshikawa, T. Takahashi, Y. Takei, A. Fujii, Y. Yamamoto, T. Okada, C. Hirose, S. Hosoda, O. Mori, T. Shimada, S. Soldini, R. Tsukizaki, T. Mizuno, T. Iwata, H. Yano, M. Ozaki, M. Abe, M. Ohtake, N. Namiki, S. Tachibana, M. Arakawa, H. Ikeda, M. Ishiguro, K. Wada, H. Yabuta, H. Takeuchi, Y. Shimaki, K. Shirai, N. Hirata, Y. Iijima, Y. Tsuda, S. Watanabe, M. Yoshikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The asteroid (162173) Ryugu and other rubble-pile asteroids are likely re-accumulated fragments of much larger parent bodies that were disrupted by impacts. However, the collisional and orbital pathways from the original parent bodies to subkilometre rubble-pile asteroids are not yet well understood1–3. Here we use Hayabusa2 observations to show that some of the bright boulders on the dark, carbonaceous (C-type) asteroid Ryugu4 are remnants of an impactor with a different composition as well as an anomalous portion of its parent body. The bright boulders on Ryugu can be classified into two spectral groups: most are featureless and similar to Ryugu’s average spectrum4,5, while others show distinct compositional signatures consistent with ordinary chondrites—a class of meteorites that originate from anhydrous silicate-rich asteroids6. The observed anhydrous silicate-like material is likely the result of collisional mixing between Ryugu’s parent body and one or multiple anhydrous silicate-rich asteroid(s) before and during Ryugu’s formation. In addition, the bright boulders with featureless spectra and less ultraviolet upturn are consistent with thermal metamorphism of carbonaceous meteorites7,8. They might sample different thermal-metamorphosed regions, which the returned sample will allow us to verify. Hence, the bright boulders on Ryugu provide new insights into the collisional evolution and accumulation of subkilometre rubble-pile asteroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan


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