71 Niobe

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71 Niobe
Lightcurve-based 3D-model of Niobe
Discovered by Karl Theodor Robert Luther
Discovery date August 13, 1861
MPC designation (71) Niobe
Pronunciation /ˈn.əb/ NY-ə-bee
Named after
Main belt
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch December 31, 2006 (JD 2454100.5)
Aphelion 484.945 Gm (3.242 AU)
Perihelion 339.408 Gm (2.269 AU)
412.176 Gm (2.755 AU)
Eccentricity 0.177
1670.455 d (4.57 a)
Inclination 23.256°
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 83.4 km
35.864±0.001 h[2]
0.305 [3]

71 Niobe (/ˈn.əb/ NY-ə-bee) is a large, slowly rotating main-belt asteroid. It was discovered by the German astronomer Robert Luther on August 13, 1861, and named after Niobe, a character in Greek mythology. In 1861, the brightness of this asteroid was shown to vary by German astronomer Friedrich Tietjen.[4]

In 2006, it was examined by radar using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico. This was supplemented by optical observations intended to build a lightcurve. The resulting estimated rotation period of 35.6 hours, or 1.48 Earth days, superseded an earlier estimate of the rotation period as 14.3 hours. The radar data produced an estimate of a maximum equatorial diameter of 94 km, which is consistent with earlier estimates based upon infrared data if the shape is assumed to be slightly elongated.[5]

The rotation period was further refined to 35.864 ± 0.001 hours during observations through 2010. Six stellar occultations of this asteroid between 2004 and 2007 produced chords ranging from 13–72 km (8–45 mi), which are statistically consistent with the published maximum diameter estimates.[2]


  1. ^ Yeomans, Donald K., "71 Niobe", JPL Small-Body Database Browser, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  2. ^ a b Pilcher, Frederick (July 2010), "A New Investigation of the Rotation Period and Size of 71 Niobe", The Minor Planet Bulletin, 37 (3): 98–99, Bibcode:2010MPBu...37...98P 
  3. ^ Asteroid Data Sets Archived 2010-01-17 at WebCite
  4. ^ Harwood, Margaret (December 1924), "Variations in the Light of Asteroids", Harvard College Observatory Circular, 269, pp. 1–15, Bibcode:1924HarCi.269....1H. 
  5. ^ Warner, Brian D.; et al. (December 2006), "Analysis of the lightcurve of 71 Niobe", The Minor Planet Bulletin, 33 (4): 102–103, Bibcode:2006MPBu...33..102W 

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