Numerical analysis of orbital motion around a contact binary asteroid system

Jinglang Feng*, Ron Noomen, Pieter Visser, Jianping Yuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The general orbital motion around a contact binary asteroid system is investigated in this study. System 1996 HW1 is explored in detail, as it is the mostly bifurcated asteroid known to date. The location of its equilibrium points (EPs) is obtained and their linear stability is studied. Families of Lyapunov, Halo and vertical periodic orbits (POs) in the vicinity of these EPs as well as their stability are found and examined, respectively. The influence of the relative size of each lobe and the shape of the ellipsoidal lobe and the rotation rate of the asteroid on the location and stability of the EPs are studied. Additionally, two families of equatorial orbits are obtained at a wide range of distances: from far away to nearby. Their stability is examined against the distance to the asteroid and the rotation rate of the asteroid, to uncover the influence of highly non-spherical gravitational field and the rotation of the asteroid on the orbital motion. Finally, resonant orbits in N commensurability with the rotation of the asteroid are found and their stability is discussed. The fast rotation of the asteroid has a stabilizing effect on the equatorial orbital motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-401
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Contact binary asteroid
  • Equilibrium points
  • Linear stability
  • Periodic orbits
  • Resonant orbits

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