Asteroid reflectance spectra from Gaia DR3: Near-UV in primitive asteroids

Tinaut-Ruano, F.; de León, J.; Tatsumi, E.; Morate, D.; Mahlke, M.; Tanga, P.; Licandro, J.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Context. In the context of charge-coupled devices (CCDs), the ultraviolet (UV) region has mostly remained unexplored after the 1990s. Gaia DR3 offers the community a unique opportunity to explore tens of thousands of asteroids in the near-UV as a proxy of the UV absorption. This absorption has been proposed in previous works as a diagnostic of hydration, organics, and space weathering.
Aims: In this work, we aim to explore the potential of the NUV as a diagnostic region for primitive asteroids using Gaia DR3.
Methods: We used a corrective factor over the blue part of Gaia spectra to erase the solar analog selection effect. We identified an artificial relation between the band noise and slope and applied a signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) threshold for Gaia bands. Meeting the quality standards, we employed a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm to compute the albedo threshold, maximizing primitive asteroid inclusion. Utilizing one- and two-dimensional (1D and 2D) projections, along with dimensionality-reduction methods (such as PCA and UMAP), we identified primitive asteroid populations.
Results: We uncovered: (a) the first observational evidence linking UV absorption to the 0.7 µm band, tied to hydrated iron-rich phyllosilicates; and (b) a 2D space revealing a split in C-type asteroids based on spectral features, including UV absorption. The computed average depth (3.5 ± 1.0 %) and center (0.70 ± 0.03 µm) of the 0.7 µm absorption band for primitive asteroids observed with Gaia is in agreement with the literature values.
Conclusions: In this paper, we shed light on the importance of the UV absorption feature to discriminate among different mineralogies (i.e., iron-rich phyllosilicates vs. iron-poor) or to identify taxonomies that are conflated in the visible (i.e., F-types vs. B-types). We have shown that this is a promising region for diagnostic studies of the composition of primitive asteroids.

Tables with the computed parameters of the 0.7 µm band are available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to ( or via