Collisional formation of top-shaped asteroids and implications for the origins of Ryugu and Bennu

P. Michel, R. L. Ballouz, O. S. Barnouin, M. Jutzi, K. J. Walsh, B. H. May, C. Manzoni, D. C. Richardson, S. R. Schwartz, S. Sugita, S. Watanabe, H. Miyamoto, M. Hirabayashi, W. F. Bottke, H. C. Connolly, M. Yoshikawa, D. S. Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Asteroid shapes and hydration levels can serve as tracers of their history and origin. For instance, the asteroids (162173) Ryugu and (101955) Bennu have an oblate spheroidal shape with a pronounced equator, but contain different surface hydration levels. Here we show, through numerical simulations of large asteroid disruptions, that oblate spheroids, some of which have a pronounced equator defining a spinning top shape, can form directly through gravitational reaccumulation. We further show that rubble piles formed in a single disruption can have similar porosities but variable degrees of hydration. The direct formation of top shapes from single disruption alone can explain the relatively old crater-retention ages of the equatorial features of Ryugu and Bennu. Two separate parent-body disruptions are not necessarily required to explain their different hydration levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2655
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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