ALCDEF Asteroid Photometry Database

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Most recent submission: 2018-08-15

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ALCDEF Compliant Data Upload

UPDATE 2018 August 19

All the data as of 2018 August 15 have been trasferred to a new location. Uploads should be permitted by Wednesday, Aug 22.

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Latest ZIP with all ALCDEF data
Created: 2018 August 19 @ 09:12:04    Size: 44,868 KB

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On/After    yyyy-mm-dd or yyyymmdd


If successful, a ZIP file is created that contains only those lightcurve blocks that were added or edited on/after the date given above and a download link appears above the Sumbit button.

N.B. Due to the heavy load required to generate the ZIP, custom downloads are limited to no more than the last 90 days.

Do not press any buttons or leave the page while waiting for the file to be generated.

About Light Curves

One of the fundamental properties of a minor planet is its rotation rate, usually expressed in hours. The periods of more than 5500 minor planets are now known. They are plotted as frequency (cycles/day) vs. size (km) in the figure below.

Figure 1

From the results used to create this figure, it is possible to draw several important conclusions for rotational statistics.

  • Most minor planets have rotation periods that are greater than about 2.2 hours with the majority being between 4 and 10 hours.
  • Objects spinning faster than about 2.2 hours must be "strength-bound" (e.g., monolithic), otherwise they would fly apart.
  • Most smaller objects spinning slower than 2.2 hours are likely "rubble piles", loose conglomerations held together by mutual gravitation.
  • There is an excess of slow rotators among smaller minor planets.

The rotation rates were determined mostly by the analysis of lightcurves, which are plots of magnitude versus time. Mathematical (e.g., Fourier) analysis of those data points leads to the determination of the period. It can also show that a minor planet is binary or in non-principal axis rotation ("tumbling"). In some cases, a carefule review of the rotation period for a given minor planet over the years can show that the minor planet's period is changing, getting slower or faster over time.

The formation of binary minor planets, tumbling action, and period change are most likely due to the YORP effect, which is a thermal process where absorbed sunlight, re-radiated as heat, can affect the minor planet's rotation period and even spin axis orientation. Another effect, the Yarkovsky (the "Y" in YORP), can cause the minor planet's semi-major axis to increase or decrease.

The shape and spin axis orientation of a minor planet can be determined if a sufficient number of lightcurve data are available. For main-belt objects, data from many years, even decades, may be required to get an accurate picture, assuming supplementary data from radar, adaptive optics, and/or occultations are not available.

The minor planet Lightcurve Database (LCDB, Warner et al., 2009, Icarus 202, 134-146) is a repository for minor planet rotation rates and other basic information such as size, albedo, absolute magnitude (H), etc. However, for modeling of shapes and spin axis, and for further development of theories regarding binary formation, tumbling, and the role of the YORP effect, researchers need full access to the complete lightcurve data sets, not just the results of the analysis. The purpose of this site is to allow researchers to upload their observations to a central repository and so make them available for others to use in independent study. As with astrometry data, a standardized format has been adopted so that supplying and using the data requires a minimum of effort. The ALCDEF (Asteroid Lightcurve Data Exchange Format) standard features a METADATA header that uses <keyword>=<value> pairs to describe the metadata. In the DATA section, the lines follow the same format, i.e., DATA=<data> where the "data" includes the JD, magnitude, and magnitude error.

Giving Credit

While the data here are in the public domain, proper credit should be give to those who supplied the data. The metadata section for each ligthcurve block includes contact information for the person who supplied the data and, in some cases, a reference to where the analysis of the original data appeared. Please be fair and give proper recognition to those who gave the time and effort to obtaining the data and then making them available.

copyright ©2018 Brian D. Warner
This ALCDEF site is made possible by funding from NASA (NNX13AP56G, expired) and the National Science Foundation (NSF, AST-1507535)
Site hosting provided by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN)