Physical properties of asteroid 308635 (2005 YU55) derived from multi-instrument infrared observations during a very close Earth approach

T. G. Müller, T. Miyata, C. Kiss, M. A. Gurwell, S. Hasegawa, E. Vilenius, S. Sako, T. Kamizuka, T. Nakamura, K. Asano, M. Uchiyama, M. Konishi, M. Yoneda, T. Ootsubo, F. Usui, Y. Yoshii, M. Kidger, B. Altieri, R. Lorente, A. PálL. O'Rourke, L. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The near-Earth asteroid 308635 (2005 YU55) is a potentially hazardous asteroid which was discovered in 2005 and passed Earth on Nov. 8, 2011 at 0.85 lunar distances. This was the closest known approach by an asteroid of several hundred metres in diameter since 1976 when an object of similar size passed at 0.5 lunar distances. We observed 2005 YU55 from the ground with a recently developed mid-IR camera (miniTAO/MAX38) in N and Q bands and with the Submillimeter Array (SMA) at 1.3 mm. In addition, we obtained space observations with Herschel/PACS at 70, 100, and 160 μm. Our thermal measurements cover a wide range of wavelengths from 8.9 μm to 1.3 mm and were taken after opposition at phase angles between -97 and -18. We performed a radiometric analysis via a thermophysical model and combined our derived properties with results from radar, adaptive optics, lightcurve observations, speckle, and auxiliary thermal data. We find that 308635 (2005 YU55) has an almost spherical shape with an effective diameter of 300 to 312 m and a geometric albedo pV of 0.055 to 0.075. Its spin axis is oriented towards celestial directions (λecl, βecl) = (60 ± 30, -60 ± 15), which means it has a retrograde sense of rotation. The analysis of all available data combined revealed a discrepancy with the radar-derived size. Our radiometric analysis of the thermal data together with the problem to find a unique rotation period might be connected to a non-principal axis rotation. A low to intermediate level of surface roughness (rms mean slope in the range 0.1-0.3) is required to explain the available thermal measurements. We found a thermal inertia in the range 350-800 Jm -2 s-0.5 K-1, very similar to the rubble-pile asteroid 25 143 Itokawa and indicating a surface with a mixture of low conductivity fine regolith with larger rocks and boulders of high thermal inertia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA97
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Infrared: planetary systems
  • Minor planets, asteroids: individual: (308635) 2005 YU55
  • Radiation mechanisms: thermal
  • Techniques: photometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical properties of asteroid 308635 (2005 YU55) derived from multi-instrument infrared observations during a very close Earth approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this