Talk:M-type asteroid

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It's odd with these large M-type asteroids in that they seem to have densities far below anything expected of solid metallic bodies. (I'm thinking of two particular examples 22 Kalliope and 16 Psyche). They have densities of 2.4 and ~2 g/cm³ which, if they are made of Ni-Fe metal, indicates a huge porosity of about 70% or more! That's more porous than plausible! This is discussed in e.g. D.T. Britt et al, Asteroids III, p. 485. Off the top of my head possible but completely unchecked explanations would be e.g.

  • The metallic component seen in the M-type spectra accounts for only some part of the surface and overall composition but is what makes these asteroids have their distinctive spectra. E.g if they are 50% metal and 50% silicate, the observed density is more reasonable.
  • The metallic spectra are due to extensive, preferentially metallic, surface melt on these objects from impacts (see for comparison suppositions about the surface of 6 Hebe, where something similar is proposed), but do not correspond to a metallic composition deep inside the body.
  • Several different compositions have similar M-type spectra, not all of them metallic.
  • A couple of coincidental errors in the mass estimates (after all there aren't that many big M-type asteroids, and the mass estimates based on close approach perturbations are not particularly accurate). Presumably the density of 22 Kalliope is pretty well known, though, since it has a moon.

These are just suppositions, though. Does anyone have any fresh data, references, or analysis of this issue? Michaelbusch? Deuar 21:18, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Current scientific consensus, or at least as close as there is to consensus, is that different compositions can give the M-type spectral class. Objects that are spectrally the same show very different radar albedos. There really is no 'metallic spectrum' in the visible and near-IR. Rather, metallics and many other things are featureless except for a spectral slope towards the red. Note: 16 Psyche is metallic. Its density is estimated at ~3.5 g/cm^3. Michaelbusch 22:41, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Very interesting! Looks like the 16 Psyche article needs a mass update.. Deuar 10:32, 10 May 2006 (UTC)


The asteroid page needs pictures, I simply can't find any pictures on the internet of M-type asteroids and if this had one everyone would be ever so pleased —Preceding unsigned comment added by Visiting Guest (talkcontribs) 17:15, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Okay, we'll send out a spacecraft pronto and take loads of pictures ;-) .—RJH (talk) 19:51, 24 December 2009 (UTC)


This article lacks a real definition.

"partially known composition; they are moderately bright..."

This is no definition. Is M for metal? Are they metal asteroids, or what? OlavN (talk) 09:40, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Also, why isn't this page linked to the asteroids page, there is no mention of m-type classification on that page directly —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:15, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

I want to make the same comment. I was reading a page about 16 Psyche and it was referred to as an M-type asteroid. Not knowing what that was I clicked the link to learn that "M-type asteroids are asteroids of partially known composition; they are moderately bright (albedo 0.1–0.2)." I thought "WTF? It just means they're moderately bright and partially known?" Misleading, to say the least. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:05, 16 July 2011 (UTC) The article needs to say if M-type asteroids come from a specific orbit or not. ¿Do they belong to a main planet lagrange point? the main asteroid belt? unknown places? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:28, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

Reflection spectrums, 'moderately bright', and M might be for metallic[edit]

I edited the redlink to redirect to the page called Asteroid spectral types. If the reader wants to know about 'reflectance spectr[a]', they will have to make a page for that! Like the previous three commentors have noted, it is difficult for a layman to understand this definition. Thus, further explanation is needed- or at least a note at the beginning of the article explaining why M is NOT for metal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:29, 11 March 2012 (UTC)