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135 Hertha

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Discovery date  February 18, 1874
Discovered  18 February 1874
Asteroid family  Nysa family
Discovery site  Litchfield Observatory
Minor planet category  Main belt Nysa
Orbits  Sun
Spectral type  M-type asteroid
135 Hertha httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Discovered by  Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters
Aphelion  2.9287124854 ± 4.995×10 AU
Perihelion  1.92827931 ± 2.0509×10 AU
Semi-major axis  2.4284958975 ± 4.1419×10 AU
Discoverer  Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters
Similar  Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters discoveries, Other celestial objects

135 Hertha is a large main-belt asteroid. Named Hertha, another name for Nerthus, a Germanic fertility goddess. It orbits among the Nysa asteroid family but its classification as an M-type asteroid does not match the more common F-type asteroid for this family, suggesting that it may be an interloper. Spectroscopic analysis indicates the possible presence of hydrated silicates indicating that 135 Hertha should possibly be reclassified from its present M-type to the proposed W-type.


Lightcurve data from Hertha indicates a flattened body, and radar observations indicate that Hertha is non-metallic. Five occultations of stars by the asteroid have been observed between 2000 and 2015.


Hertha was discovered by C. H. F. Peters on February 18, 1874, in Clinton, New York. Further observations were carried out in 1883 by W. T. Sampson and communicated to Astronomische Nachrichten on his behalf by Rear Admiral R. W. Shufeldt.

Physical properties

After its discovery in 1874 and subsequent observations in 1884 had established Hertha's orbit, astronomers began investigation of its physical properties. As early as 1904 G. W. Hill reported observations of Hertha's brightness indicating a variation of half a magnitude and a short period.

In October 1992 Dotto et al. performed 20 hours of observations spread over 6 nights to investigate 135 Hertha's rotational period, approximate shape, and the coordinates of its rotational axis. They were able to confirm a rotational period of 8.398 ± .001 hours as previously measured by Harris et al. published earlier in 1992. In the same study, Dotto et al. measured the asteroid's shape and rotational axis. The axes' ratios were found to be: a/b = 1.34 ± .03 and b/c = 1.22 ± .05. Two possible values were determined for the rotational axis, however further measurements at different ecliptic longitudes are required to determine which is correct.

In August 2003 Torppa et al. published their results on the shape and rotational properties of a number of asteroids, including 135 Hertha. Utilizing data from 42 lightcurves of 135 Hertha spanning from 1978 to 2002, a more refined set of axes' ratios was obtained and a detailed shape model was obtained through inversion. New values for the axes' ratios are: a/b = 1.1 and b/c = 1.5. Measurements of the pole direction were also obtained, however like Dotto et al. they were unable to differentiate between their two possible solutions of (β=+58°, λ=96°) and (β=+53°, λ=274°).

Spectral classification

Although 135 Hertha has long been classified as an M-type asteroid based on its spectral properties, observations carried out by Rivkin et al. in 1996 using the IRTF at Mauna Kea Observatory have raised the possibility of reclassification. The presence of a dip in the observed spectrum at 3 μm indicates that the surface is hydrated, suggesting that 135 Hertha should be reclassified as a W-type (a "wet M-type") asteroid. Based on work carried out by Salisbury and Walter, the Rivkin study estimated the water content of the asteroid to be between 0.14 and 0.27 percent by mass; it should be noted, however, that this estimate is based on laboratory measurements and may not be applicable to asteroids in space.

A more recent study by Rivkin et al. published in 2002 examined the dependence of spectral absorption on the asteroid's rotational phase. The study looked at the 0.7 μm band, which is also associated with hydrated silicates, and found that the reflectance changes as the asteroid rotates, suggesting that the surface is heterogeneous with some hydrated areas intermixed with dry areas.

Asteroid Family

Hertha is one of the main bodies of the Nysa family, which is the largest family of asteroids known, with 12568 members known as of June 2015.


135 Hertha Wikipedia

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