• R. Sultana
  • O. Poch
  • P. Beck
  • B. Schmitt
  • E. Quirico
  • S. Spadaccia
  • L. Patty
  • A. Pommerol
  • A. Maturilli
  • J. Helbert
  • G. Alemanno
Reflection, emission, and polarization properties of surfaces made of hyperfine grains, and implications for the nature of primitive small bodies
Solar System small bodies were the first objects to accrete inside the protoplanetary disk, giving insights into its composition and structure. The P-/D-type asteroids are particularly interesting because of the similarity of their spectra, at visible and near infrared wavelengths (Vis-NIR), with cometary nuclei, suggesting that they are the most primitive types of small bodies. There are various indications that (1) their low albedo in the visible (Vis) and mid-infrared (MIR) wavelength ranges seems mainly controlled by the presence of opaque minerals (iron sulfides, Fe-Ni alloys etc.) (Quirico et al., 2016; Rousseau et al., 2018); and (2) their surfaces are made of intimate mixtures of these opaque minerals and other components (silicates, carbonaceous compounds, etc.) in the form of sub-micrometre-sized grains, smaller than the wavelength at which they are observed, so-called “hyperfine” grains. Here, we investigate how the Vis-NIR-MIR (0.55-25 µm) spectral and V-band (0.53 µm) polarimetric properties of surfaces made of hyperfine grains are influenced by the relative abundance of such hyperfine materials, having strongly different optical indexes. Mixtures of grains of olivine and iron sulfide (or anthracite), as analogues of silicates and opaque minerals present on small bodies, were prepared at different proportions. The measurements reveal that these mixtures of hyperfine grains have spectral and polarimetric Vis-NIR properties varying in strongly nonlinear ways. When present at even a few percent, opaque components dominate the Vis-NIR spectral and polarimetric properties, and mask the silicate bands at these wavelengths. The Vis-NIR spectral slope ranges from red (positive slope), for pure opaque material, to blue (negative slope) as the proportion of silicates increases, which is reminiscent of the range of spectral slopes observed on P/D/X/C- and B-types asteroids. The spectra of the darkest mixtures in the Vis-NIR exhibit the absorption bands of Si-O in olivine around 10 µm in the MIR, which is observed in emission for several small bodies. The samples studied here have macro- and micro-porosities lower than 78%, indicating that surfaces more compact than “fairy castle” hyperporous (80-99%) ones can also exhibit a blue spectral slope or a silicate signature at 10 µm. Remarkably, some mixtures exhibit altogether a red spectral slope in the Vis-NIR, a 10-µm feature in the MIR, and a V-band polarimetric phase curve similar (but not identical) to P-/D-type asteroids, reinforcing the hypothesis that these bodies are made of powdery mixtures of sub-micrometre-sized grains having contrasted optical indexes. This work shows that both the contrasted optical indexes of the components, and the dispersion or aggregation −depending on their relative proportions− of their hyperfine grains, induce different light scattering regimes in the Vis-NIR and MIR, as observed for primitive small bodies. The optical separation of hyperfine grains seems to be a major parameter controlling the optical properties of these objects.
laboratory simulation, dust, small bodies, Vis-NIR spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, radiative transfer
spectral data, material-matter, sample, planetary sciences
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