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15 Eunomia

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15 Eunomia
Discovered byAnnibale de Gasparis
Discovery siteNaples Obs.
Discovery date29 July 1851
(15) Eunomia
Named after
AdjectivesEunomian /jˈnmiən/[2]
Symbol (historical)
Orbital characteristics[3]
Epoch July 01, 2021
(JD 2459396.5, heliocentric)
Aphelion3.14 AU (469 Gm)
Perihelion2.15 AU (321 Gm)
2.644 AU (395 Gm)
4.30 yr (1571 d)
Physical characteristics
Dimensions(357 × 255 × 212) ± 15 km[4]
Mean diameter
270±3 km[5]
268 km[4]
231.689 ± 2.234 km[3]
Mass(30.5±1.9)×1018 kg[5]
(31.8±0.3)×1018 kg[b][4]
Mean density
2.96±0.21 g/cm3[5]
3.14±0.53 g/cm3[4]
6.083 h (0.2535 d)[3]
0.25±4 geometric (0.84±0.02 BV, 0.45±0.02 UB)[3]
S-type asteroid[3]
7.9[6] to 11.24
0.29″ to 0.085″

Eunomia (minor planet designation 15 Eunomia) is a very large asteroid in the middle asteroid belt. It is the largest of the stony (S-type) asteroids, with 3 Juno as a close second. It is quite a massive asteroid, in 6th to 8th place (to within measurement uncertainties). It is the largest Eunomian asteroid, and is estimated to contain 1% of the mass of the asteroid belt.[7][8]

Eunomia was discovered by Annibale de Gasparis on July 29, 1851, and named after Eunomia, one of the Horae (Hours), a personification of order and law in Greek mythology. Its historical symbol is a heart with a star on top; it is in the pipeline for Unicode 17.0 as U+1CEC8 𜻈 ().[9][10]


As the largest S-type asteroid (with 3 Juno being a very close second), Eunomia has attracted a moderate amount of scientific attention.

Eunomia appears to be an elongated but fairly regularly shaped body, with what appear to be four sides of differing curvature and noticeably different average compositions.[11] Its elongation led to the suggestion that Eunomia may be a binary object, but this has been refuted.[12] It is a retrograde rotator with its pole pointing towards ecliptic coordinates (β, λ) = (−65°, 2°) with a 10° uncertainty.[11][12] This gives an axial tilt of about 165°.

Like other true members of the family, its surface is composed of silicates and some nickel-iron, and is quite bright. Calcium-rich pyroxenes and olivine, along with nickel-iron metal, have been detected on Eunomia's surface. Spectroscopic studies suggest that Eunomia has regions with differing compositions: A larger region dominated by olivine, which is pyroxene-poor and metal-rich, and another somewhat smaller region on one hemisphere (the less pointed end) that is noticeably richer in pyroxene,[11] and has a generally basaltic composition.[13]

This composition indicates that the parent body was likely subject to magmatic processes, and became at least partially differentiated under the influence of internal heating in the early period of the Solar System. The range of compositions of the remaining Eunomian asteroids, formed by a collision of the common parent body, is large enough to encompass all the surface variations on Eunomia itself. The majority of smaller Eunomian asteroids are more pyroxene rich than Eunomia's surface, and contain very few metallic (M-type) bodies.

Altogether, these lines of evidence suggest that Eunomia is the central remnant of the parent body of the Eunomia family, which was stripped of most of its crustal material by the disrupting impact, but was perhaps not disrupted itself. However, there is uncertainty over Eunomia's internal structure and relationship to the parent body. Computer simulations of the collision[14] are more consistent with Eunomia being a re-accumulation of most of the fragments of a completely shattered parent body, yet Eunomia's quite high density would indicate that it is not a rubble pile after all. Whatever the case in this respect, it appears that any metallic core region, if present, has not been exposed.

An older explanation of the compositional differences, that Eunomia is a mantle fragment of a far larger parent body (with a bit of crust on one end, and a bit of core on the other), appears to be ruled out by studies of the mass distribution of the entire Eunomia family. These indicate that the largest fragment (that is, Eunomia) has about 70% of the mass of the parent body,[15] which is consistent with Eunomia being a central remnant, with the crust and part of the mantle stripped off.

These indications are also in accord with recent mass determinations which indicate that Eunomia's density is typical of mostly intact stony asteroids, and not the anomalously low "rubble pile" density of ~1 g/cm3 that had been reported earlier.


15 Eunomia was in study of asteroids using the Hubble FGS.[16] Asteroids studied include (63) Ausonia, (15) Eunomia, (43) Ariadne, (44) Nysa, and (624) Hektor.[16]


The orbit of 15 Eunomia places it in a 7:16 mean-motion resonance with the planet Mars. Eunomia is used by the Minor Planet Center to calculate perturbations.[17] The computed Lyapunov time for this asteroid is 25,000 years, indicating that it occupies a chaotic orbit that will change randomly over time because of gravitational perturbations of the planets.[18]

Eunomia has been observed occulting stars three times. It has a mean opposition magnitude of +8.5,[19] about equal to the mean brightness of Titan, and can reach +7.9 at a near perihelion opposition.

Asteroid (50278) 2000 CZ12 passed about 0.00037 AU (55,000 km; 34,000 mi) from Eunomia on March 4, 2002.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flattening derived from the maximum aspect ratio (c/a): , where (c/a) = 0.53±0.02.[5]
  2. ^ (15.97±0.15)×10−12 M


  1. ^ Noah Webster (1884) A Practical Dictionary of the English Language
  2. ^ "Eunomian". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d e f JPL data Retrieved 2021-09-29
  4. ^ a b c d Baer, James; Chesley, Steven R.; Matson, Robert D. (2011). "Astrometric Masses of 26 Asteroids and Observations on Asteroid Porosity". The Astronomical Journal. 141 (5): 143. Bibcode:2011AJ....141..143B. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/141/5/143. S2CID 121625885.
  5. ^ a b c d e P. Vernazza et al. (2021) VLT/SPHERE imaging survey of the largest main-belt asteroids: Final results and synthesis. Astronomy & Astrophysics 54, A56
  6. ^ Donald H. Menzel & Jay M. Pasachoff (1983). A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 391. ISBN 0-395-34835-8.
  7. ^ Vitagliano, Aldo; Reiner M. Stoss (2006). "New mass determination of (15) Eunomia based on a very close encounter with (50278) 2000CZ12". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 455 (3): L29–L31. Bibcode:2006A&A...455L..29V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20065760.
  8. ^ Pitjeva, E. V. (2005). "High-Precision Ephemerides of Planets—EPM and Determination of Some Astronomical Constants" (PDF). Solar System Research. 39 (3): 176–186. Bibcode:2005SoSyR..39..176P. doi:10.1007/s11208-005-0033-2. S2CID 120467483. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008. Eunomia 0.164E−11 solar masses; asteroid belt 15E−11 solar masses → 1.1%.
  9. ^ Bala, Gavin Jared; Miller, Kirk (18 September 2023). "Unicode request for historical asteroid symbols" (PDF). unicode.org. Unicode. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  10. ^ Unicode. "Proposed New Characters: The Pipeline". unicode.org. The Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Nathues, Andreas (2005). "Spectral study of the Eunomia asteroid family". Icarus. 175 (2): 452–463. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2004.12.013.
  12. ^ a b Tanga, Paolo (2003). "Asteroid observations with the Hubble Space Telescope FGS". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 401 (2): 733–741. Bibcode:2003A&A...401..733T. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20030032. S2CID 8977642.
  13. ^ Reed, Kevin L.; Gaffey, Michael J.; Lebofsky, Larry A. (1997). "Shape and Albedo Variations of Asteroid 15 Eunomia". Icarus. 125 (2): 446. Bibcode:1997Icar..125..446R. doi:10.1006/icar.1996.5627.
  14. ^ Michel, Patrick; Benz, Willy; Richardson, Derek C. (2004). "Catastrophic disruption of pre-shattered parent bodies". Icarus. 168 (2): 420–432. Bibcode:2004Icar..168..420M. doi:10.1016/J.ICARUS.2003.12.011. S2CID 18834098.
  15. ^ Tanga, P.; Cellino, A.; Michel, P.; Zappalà, V.; Paolicchi, P.; Dell'Oro, A. (1999). "On the Size Distribution of Asteroid Families: The Role of Geometry". Icarus. 141 (1): 65–78. Bibcode:1999Icar..141...65T. doi:10.1006/icar.1999.6148.
  16. ^ a b Tanga, P.; Hestroffer, D.; Cellino, A.; Lattanzi, M.; Martino, M. Di; Zappalà, V. (1 April 2003). "Asteroid observations with the Hubble Space Telescope FGS". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 401 (2): 733–741. Bibcode:2003A&A...401..733T. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20030032. ISSN 0004-6361.
  17. ^ "Perturbing Bodies". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  18. ^ Šidlichovský, M. (1999), Svoren, J.; Pittich, E. M.; Rickman, H. (eds.), "Resonances and chaos in the asteroid belt", Evolution and source regions of asteroids and comets : proceedings of the 173rd colloquium of the International Astronomical Union, held in Tatranska Lomnica, Slovak Republic, August 24–28, 1998, pp. 297–308, Bibcode:1999esra.conf..297S.
  19. ^ The Brightest Asteroids Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "JPL Close-Approach Data: 50278 (2000 CZ12)". 31 May 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.

External links[edit]