50 Virginia

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50 Virginia
Discovered by Karl Theodor Robert Luther, James Ferguson
Discovery date October 4, 1857
MPC designation (50) Virginia
Named after
Verginia or Virginia
Main belt
Orbital characteristics
Epoch December 31, 2006 (JD 2454100.5)
Aphelion 509.817 Gm (3.408 AU)
Perihelion 283.389 Gm (1.894 AU)
396.603 Gm (2.651 AU)
Eccentricity 0.285
1,576.682 d (4.32 a)
Inclination 2.834°
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 99.8 km[2]
Mass (2.31±0.70)×1018 kg[3]
Mean density
4.49 ± 1.35[3] g/cm3
14.31 h[2]

50 Virginia /vərˈɪniə/ is a large, very dark main belt asteroid. It was discovered by American astronomer James Ferguson on October 4, 1857, from the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. German astronomer Robert Luther discovered it independently on October 19 from Düsseldorf, and his discovery was announced first.[1]

The reason for Virginia's name is not known; it may be named after Verginia, the Roman noblewoman slain by her father, but it may alternatively have been named after the American state of Virginia.[5]

Photometric observations of this asteroid at the Organ Mesa Observatory in Las Cruces, New Mexico, during 2008 gave a light curve with a period of 14.315 ± 0.001 hours and a brightness variation of 0.19 ± 0.02 in magnitude. The shape of the light curve at the maximum was found to change with phase angle.[6]

The orbit of 50 Virginia places it in an 11:4 mean motion resonance with the planet Jupiter. The computed Lyapunov time for this asteroid is only 10,000 years, indicating that it occupies a chaotic orbit that will change randomly over time because of gravitational perturbations of the planets.[7]

Virginia has been studied by radar.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Numbered Minor Planets 1–5000", Discovery Circumstances, IAU Minor Planet center, retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Yeomans, Donald K., "50 Virginia", JPL Small-Body Database Browser, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  3. ^ a b Carry, B. (December 2012), "Density of asteroids", Planetary and Space Science, 73, pp. 98–118, arXiv:1203.4336Freely accessible, Bibcode:2012P&SS...73...98C, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2012.03.009.  See Table 1.
  4. ^ Asteroid Data Sets Archived 2010-01-17 at WebCite
  5. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 20. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. 
  6. ^ Pilcher, Frederick (January 2009), "Period Determinations for 33 Polyhymnia, 38 Leda, 50 Virginia, 189 Phthia, and 290 Bruna", The Minor Planet Bulletin, 36 (1), pp. 25–27, Bibcode:2009MPBu...36...25P. 
  7. ^ Šidlichovský, M. (1999), Svoren, J.; Pittich, E. M.; Rickman, H., eds., "Resonances and chaos in the asteroid belt", Evolution and source regions of asteroids and comets : proceedings of the 173rd colloquium of the International Astronomical Union, held in Tatranska Lomnica, Slovak Republic, August 24–28, 1998, pp. 297–308, Bibcode:1999esra.conf..297S. 
  8. ^ "Radar-Detected Asteroids and Comets". NASA/JPL Asteroid Radar Research. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 

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