Polarimetry of Didymos-Dimorphos: Unexpected Long-Term Effects of the DART Impact

Zuri Gray, Stefano Bagnulo, Mikael Granvik, Alberto Cellino, Geraint H. Jones, Ludmilla Kolokolova, Fernando Moreno, Karri Muinonen, Olga Muñoz, Cyrielle Opitom, Antti Penttilä, Colin Snodgrass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We have monitored the Didymos-Dimorphos binary system in imaging polarimetric mode before and after the impact from the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. A previous spectropolarimetric study showed that the impact caused a dramatic drop in polarisation. Our longer-term monitoring shows that the polarisation of the post-impact system remains lower than the pre-impact system even months after the impact, suggesting that some fresh ejecta material remains in the system at the time of our observations, either in orbit or settled on the surface. The slope of the post-impact polarimetric curve is shallower than that of the pre-impact system, implying an increase in albedo of the system. This suggests that the ejected material is composed of smaller and possibly brighter particles than those present on the pre-impact surface of the asteroid. Our polarimetric maps show that the dust cloud ejected immediately after the impact polarises light in a spatially uniform manner (and at a lower level than pre-impact). Later maps exhibit a gradient in polarisation between the photocentre (which probes the asteroid surface) and the surrounding cloud and tail. The polarisation occasionally shows some small-scale variations, the source of which is not yet clear. The polarimetric phase curve of Didymos-Dimorphos resembles that of the S-type asteroid class.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalThe Planetary Science Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Polarimetry - minor planets
  • asteroids
  • individual (Didymos, Dimorphos)


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