Physical properties of centaur (54598) Bienor from photometry

Authors: 
Fernández-Valenzuela, E.; Ortiz, J. L.; Duffard, R.; Morales, N.; Santos-Sanz, P.
Abstract: 
We present time series photometry of Bienor in four observation campaigns from 2013 to 2016 and compare them with previous observations in the literature dating back to 2000. The results show a remarkable decline in the amplitude of the rotational light curve and in the absolute magnitude. This suggests that the angle between the rotation axis and the line of sight has changed noticeably during the last 16 yr as Bienor orbits the Sun. From the light-curve amplitude data, we are able to determine the orientation of the rotation axis of Bienor (βp = 50 ± 3°, λp = 35 ± 8°). We are also able to constrain the b/a axial ratio of a triaxial Jacobi ellipsoidal body (with semi-axis a > b > c). The best fit is for b/a = 0.45 ± 0.05, which corresponds to a density value of 594^{+47}_{-35} kg m-3 under the usual assumption of hydrostatic equilibrium and given that Bienor's rotational period is 9.17 h. However, the absolute magnitude of Bienor at several epochs is not well reproduced. We tested several explanations such as relaxing the hydrostatic equilibrium constraint, a large north-south asymmetry in the surface albedo of Bienor or even a ring system. When a ring system of similar characteristics to those of Chariklo and Chiron is included, we can fit both the light-curve amplitude and absolute magnitude. In this case, the derived axial ratio is modified to b/a = 0.37 ± 0.10. The implied density is 678^{+209}_{-100} kg m-3. Also, the existence of a ring is consistent with the spectroscopic detection of water ice on Bienor. Nevertheless, the other explanations cannot be discarded.
Main Author: 
Fernández-Valenzuela, E.
IAA Authors: 
Fernández-Valenzuela, E.; Ortiz, J. L.; Duffard, R.; Morales, N.; Santos-Sanz, P.
DOI: 
10.1093/mnras/stw3264
Journal: 
MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYALASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
Publication Date : 
01/04/2017
Volume: 
466
Pages: 
4147- 4158
Issue: 
4
Type: 
Refereed paper
Keywords: 
techniques: photometric, Kuiper belt objects: individual: Bienor, planets and satellites: rings, planetary systems