On this image, Asteroid (45) Eugenia (at center, bright) is shown with
a companion "moon" pictured at five different epochs. The motion of
the companion satellite is clearly evident in this image,i.e., in the
rest frame of (45) Eugenia. The satellite moves in the clockwise
direction. Its orbit is nearly circular, but inclined by 46°. The
best-fit orbit is shown in green. This is the first ground based
detection of an asteroidal satellite and the only other case known is
the Ida/Dactyl pair,
discovered by spacecraft Galileo in August 1993. At the time of this discovery, Eugenia was 321 million
kilometers away. The size of the orbit is 1190km.
Eugenia has a diameter of 215km and its satellite 13km only.
The orbital period is 4.7 days. The main result extracted from these images
is the low density of Eugenia, only about 1.2g/cm³ ,i.e., only slightly more than water: a flying rubble-pile!
Technical description: This composite image was made from five(5) individual frames obtained with CFHT's Adaptive Optics Bonnette PUEO, equipped with the KIR near-infrared camera in the H-Band during the period November 13-19, 1998. The images have been carefully recentered , stacked, and deconvolved.