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Baptistina Asteroid Family and K/T Mass Extinction

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In 2007, Bottke et al. proposed a hypothesis suggesting that the impactor that caused the K/T mass extinction originated in the Baptistina Asteroid Family (BAF) in the main asteroid belt. BAF was created when its parent body experienced super catastrophic disruption approximately 160 million years ago. The K/T impactor was transported to near-Earth space via Yarkovsky effect and chaotic resonances and eventually collided with the 65 million years ago. The link between BAF and K/T impactor was made based on a fossilized meteorite presumed to be from the impacting asteroid that suggested a carbonaceous composition. Colors of BAF suggested an X/C taxonomy, which included carbonaceous chondrite meteorites as possible analogs. Detail compositional analysis of several large BAF members including (298) Baptistina, the largest member of the family by Reddy et al. (2010, 2011) has shown that a majority of them have composition similar to the background Flora population. This indicated significant contamination of the BAF from members of Flora family and made (298) Baptistina an interloper in its own family. The talk will focus on the ongoing debate on the albedo and composition of small members of the BAF and the source of the K/T impactor.

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