Concept

YORP effect

Summary
The Yarkovsky–O'Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack effect, or YORP effect for short, changes the rotation state of a small astronomical body – that is, the body's spin rate and the obliquity of its pole(s) – due to the scattering of solar radiation off its surface and the emission of its own thermal radiation. The YORP effect is typically considered for asteroids with their heliocentric orbit in the Solar System. The effect is responsible for the creation of binary and tumbling asteroids as well as for changing an asteroid's pole towards 0°, 90°, or 180° relative to the ecliptic plane and so modifying its heliocentric radial drift rate due to the Yarkovsky effect. The term was coined by David P. Rubincam in 2000 to honor four important contributors to the concepts behind the so-named YORP effect. In the 19th century, Ivan Yarkovsky realized that the thermal radiation escaping from a body warmed by the Sun carries off momentum as well as heat. Translated into modern physics, each emitted photon possesses a momentum p = E/c where E is its energy and c is the speed of light. Vladimir Radzievskii applied the idea to rotation based on changes in albedo and Stephen Paddack realized that shape was a much more effective means of altering a body's spin rate. Stephen Paddack and John O'Keefe suggested that the YORP effect leads to rotational bursting and by repeatedly undergoing this process, small asymmetric bodies are eventually reduced to dust. In principle, electromagnetic radiation interacts with the surface of an asteroid in three significant ways: radiation from the Sun is (1) absorbed and (2) diffusively reflected by the surface of the body and the body's internal energy is (3) emitted as thermal radiation. Since photons possess momentum, each of these interactions leads to changes in the angular momentum of the body relative to its center of mass. If considered for only a short period of time, these changes are very small, but over longer periods of time, these changes may integrate to significant changes in the angular momentum of the body.
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