Link between the potentially hazardous Asteroid (86039) 1999 NC43 and the Chelyabinsk meteoroid tenuous

Vishnu Reddy, David Vokrouhlický, William F. Bottke, Petr Pravec, Juan A. Sanchez, Bruce L. Gary, Rachel Klima, Edward A. Cloutis, Adrián Galád, Tan Thiam Guan, Kamil Hornoch, Matthew R.M. Izawa, Peter Kušnirák, Lucille Le Corre, Paul Mann, Nicholas Moskovitz, Brian Skiff, Jan Vraštil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We explored the statistical and compositional link between Chelyabinsk meteoroid and potentially hazardous Asteroid (86039) 1999 NC43 to investigate their proposed relation proposed by Borovička et al. (Borovička, J., et al. [2013]. Nature 503, 235-237). First, using a slightly more detailed computation we confirm that the orbit of the Chelyabinsk impactor is anomalously close to the Asteroid 1999 NC43. We find ~(1-3)×10-4 likelihood of that to happen by chance. Taking the standpoint that the Chelyabinsk impactor indeed separated from 1999 NC43 by a cratering or rotational fission event, we run a forward probability calculation, which is an independent statistical test. However, we find this scenario is unlikely at the ~(10-3-10-2) level. Secondly, we note that efforts to conclusively prove separation of the Chelyabinsk meteoroid from (86039) 1999 NC43 in the past needs to meet severe criteria: relative velocity ≃1-10m/s or smaller, and ≃100km distance (i.e. about the Hill sphere distance from the parent body). We conclude that, unless the separation event was an extremely recent event, these criteria present an insurmountable difficulty due to the combination of strong orbital chaoticity, orbit uncertainty and incompleteness of the dynamical model with respect to thermal accelerations. This situation leaves the link of the two bodies unresolved and calls for additional analyses. With that goal, we revisit the presumed compositional link between (86039) 1999 NC43 and the Chelyabinsk body. Borovička et al. (Borovička, J., et al. [2013]. Nature 503, 235-237) noted that given its Q-type taxonomic classification, 1999 NC43 may pass this test. However, here we find that while the Q-type classification of 1999 NC43 is accurate, assuming that all Q-types are LL chondrites is not. Our experiment shows that not all ordinary chondrites fall under Q-taxonomic type and not all LL chondrites are Q-types. Spectral curve matching between laboratory spectra of Chelyabinsk and 1999 NC43 spectrum shows that the spectra do not match. Mineralogical analysis of Chelyabinsk (LL chondrite) and (8) Flora (the largest member of the presumed LL chondrite parent family) shows that their olivine and pyroxene chemistries are similar to LL chondrites. Similar analysis of 1999 NC43 shows that its olivine and pyroxene chemistries are more similar to L chondrites than LL chondrites (like Chelyabinsk). Analysis of the spectrum using Modified Gaussian Model (MGM) suggests 1999 NC43 is similar to LL or L chondrite although we suspect this ambiguity is due to lack of temperature and phase angle corrections in the model. While some asteroid pairs show differences in spectral slope, there is no evidence for L and LL chondrite type objects fissioning out from the same parent body. We also took photometric observations of 1999 NC43 over 54 nights during two apparitions (2000, 2014). The lightcurve of 1999 NC43 resembles simulated lightcurves of tumblers in Short-Axis Mode (SAM) with the mean wobbling angle 20°-30°. The very slow rotation of 1999 NC43 could be a result of slow-down by the Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect. While, a mechanism of the non-principal axis rotation excitation is unclear, we can rule out the formation of asteroid in disruption of its parent body as a plausible cause, as it is unlikely that the rotation of an asteroid fragment from catastrophic disruption would be nearly completely halted. Considering all these facts, we find the proposed link between the Chelyabinsk meteoroid and the Asteroid 1999 NC43 to be unlikely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - May 5 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids, dynamics
  • Impact processes
  • Meteors
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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