Spin-driven evolution of asteroids' top-shapes at fast and slow spins seen from (101955) Bennu and (162173) Ryugu

Masatoshi Hirabayashi, Ryota Nakano, Eri Tatsumi, Kevin J. Walsh, Olivier S. Barnouin, Patrick Michel, Christine M. Hartzell, Daniel T. Britt, Seiji Sugita, Sei ichiro Watanabe, William F. Bottke, Daniel J. Scheeres, Ronald Louis Ballouz, Yuichiro Cho, Tomokatsu Morota, Ellen S. Howell, Dante S. Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Proximity observations by OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 provided clues on the shape evolution processes of the target asteroids, (101955) Bennu and (162173) Ryugu. Their oblate shapes with equatorial ridges, or the so-called top shapes, may have evolved due to their rotational conditions at present and in the past. Different shape evolution scenarios were previously proposed; Bennu's top shape may have been driven by surface processing, while Ryugu's may have been developed due to large deformation. These two scenarios seem to be inconsistent. Here, we revisit the structural analyses in earlier works and fill a gap to connect these explanations. We also apply a semi-analytical technique for computing the cohesive strength distribution in a uniformly rotating triaxial ellipsoid to characterize the global failure of top-shaped bodies. Assuming that the structure is uniform, our semi-analytical approach describes the spatial variations in failed regions at different spin periods; surface regions are the most sensitive at longer spin periods, while interiors fail structurally at shorter spin periods. This finding suggests that the shape evolution of a top shape may vary due to rotation and internal structure, which can explain the different evolution scenarios of Bennu's and Ryugu's top shapes. We interpret our results as the indications of top shapes' various evolution processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113946
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Asteroids
  • Asteroids, rotation
  • Asteroids, surfaces
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Regolith

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Spin-driven evolution of asteroids' top-shapes at fast and slow spins seen from (101955) Bennu and (162173) Ryugu'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this