Mineralogical characterization of Baptistina Asteroid Family: Implications for K/T impactor source

Vishnu Reddy, Jorge M. Carvano, Daniela Lazzaro, Tatiana A. Michtchenko, Michael J. Gaffey, Michael S. Kelley, Thais Mothé-Diniz, Alvaro Alvarez-Candal, Nicholas A. Moskovitz, Edward A. Cloutis, Erin L. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Bottke et al. [Bottke, W.F., Vokrouhlicky, D., Nesvorný, D., 2007. Nature 449, 48-53] linked the catastrophic formation of Baptistina Asteroid Family (BAF) to the K/T impact event. This linkage was based on dynamical and compositional evidence, which suggested the impactor had a composition similar to CM2 carbonaceous chondrites. However, our recent study [Reddy, V., Emery, J.P., Gaffey, M.J., Bottke, W.F., Cramer, A., Kelley, M.S., 2009. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 44, 1917-1927] suggests that the composition of (298) Baptistina is similar to LL-type ordinary chondrites rather than CM2 carbonaceous chondrites. This rules out any possibility of it being related to the source of the K/T impactor, if the impactor was of CM-type composition. Mineralogical study of asteroids in the vicinity of BAF has revealed a plethora of compositional types suggesting a complex formation and evolution environment. A detailed compositional analysis of 16 asteroids suggests several distinct surface assemblages including ordinary chondrites (Gaffey SIV subtype), primitive achondrites (Gaffey SIII subtype), basaltic achondrites (Gaffey SVII subtype and V-type), and a carbonaceous chondrite. Based on our mineralogical analysis we conclude that (298) Baptistina is similar to ordinary chondrites (LL-type) based on olivine and pyroxene mineralogy and moderate albedo. S-type and V-type in and around the vicinity of BAF we characterized show mineralogical affinity to (8) Flora and (4) Vesta and could be part of their families. Smaller BAF asteroids with lower SNR spectra showing only a 'single' band are compositionally similar to (298) Baptistina and L/LL chondrites. It is unclear at this point why the silicate absorption bands in spectra of asteroids with formal family definition seem suppressed relative to background population, despite having similar mineralogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-197
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Impact processes
  • Mineralogy
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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