When both binary asteroids are similar in size, they are sometimes called "binary companions", "double asteroids" or "doublet asteroids". Good examples of true binary companions are the 90 Antiope system and the Hermes system. Binary asteroids with a small satellite, called a "satellite", "moon", or sometimes "moonlet", have been more commonly observed (see 22 Kalliope, 45 Eugenia, 87 Sylvia, 107 Camilla, 121 Hermione, 130 Elektra, 243 Ida, 283 Emma, 379 Huenna, etc.). They are also called high-size-ratio or high-mass-ratio binary-asteroid systems.
Several theories have been posited to explain the formation of binary-asteroid systems. Recent work suggests that most of them have a significant macro-porosity (a "rubble-pile" interior). The satellites orbiting large main-belt asteroids such as 22 Kalliope, 45 Eugenia or 87 Sylvia could have formed by disruption of a parent body after impact or fission after an oblique impact. Trans-Neptunian binaries may have formed during the formation of the Solar System by mutual capture or three-body interaction. Near-Earth asteroids, which orbit in the inner part of the Solar System, most likely form by spin-up and mass shedding, likely as a result of the YORP effect. A possible explanation for the relatively greater occurrence of binary asteroids near or inside of Earth's orbit was described in the journal Nature (10 June 2008): this work confirms that when solar energy (see YORP effect) spins a “rubble pile” asteroid to a sufficiently fast rate, material is thrown from the asteroid’s equator. This process also exposes fresh material at the poles of the asteroid.