Impact origin of the Vesta family

Erik Asphaug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The compelling petrographic link (Consolmagno and Drake, 1977; Gaffey, 1983) between basaltic achondrite meteorites and the ∼530 km diameter asteroid 4 Vesta has been tempered by a perceived difficulty in launching rocks from this asteroid's surface at speeds sufficient to bring them to Earth (Wasson and Wetherill, 1979) without obliterating Vesta's signature crust. I address this impasse in response to recent imaging (Zellner et al., 1996; Dumas and Hainaut, 1996) of a ∼450 km impact basin across Vesta's southern hemisphere (Thomas et al., 1997) and model the basin-forming collision using a detailed two-dimensional hydrocode with brittle fracture including self-gravitational compression (cf., Asphaug and Melosh, 1993). A ∼42 km diameter asteroid striking Vesta's basaltic crust (atop a denser mantle and iron core) at 5.4 km/s launches multikilometer fragments up to ∼600 m/s without inverting distal stratigraphy, according to the code. This modeling, together with collisional, dynamical, rheological and exposure-age timescales (Marzari et al., 1996; Welten et al., 1996), and observations of V-type asteroids (Binzel and Xu, 1993) suggests a recent (<∼1 Ga) impact origin for the Vesta family and a possible Vesta origin for Earth-approaching V-type asteroids (Cruikshank et al., 1991).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-980
Number of pages16
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact origin of the Vesta family'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this