Eos family

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The Eos or Eoan family is a prominent family of main belt asteroids that is believed to have formed as a result of an ancient catastrophic collision. Members of the family share similar orbits. The family is named after 221 Eos.

In 1918, while the Japanese astronomer Kiyotsugu Hirayama was studying at Yale University, he began to examine asteroid motions. By plotting the mean motion, eccentricity and inclination of the asteroid orbits, he discovered that some of the objects formed groupings. In a 1918 paper, he described three such groups, including the Eos family with 19 members. Since that time, the number of members in the Eos family grouping has continued to grow, reaching 289 by 1993.

The Eos family asteroids have semi-major axes between 2.99 and 3.03 Astronomical Units, eccentricities between 0.01 and 0.13, and inclinations between 8° and 12°. Currently there are about 4,400 members known. The inner orbit of the family is bracketed by the 7/3 mean-motion resonance with Jupiter at 2.96 AU. The orbital range also includes the 9/4 mean-motion resonance with Jupiter at 3.03 AU. Most of the family members lie within the latter orbital distance. The distribution of asteroid sizes suggests that the family is about 1–2 billion years old.

Kiyotsugu Hirayama hypothesized that these asteroid families were formed by a catastrophic collision with a parent body. This interpretation is still accepted today by...
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