On Identifying Clusters Within the C-type Asteroids of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

American Astronomical Society, Department of Planetary Sciences


We applied AutoClass, a data mining technique based upon Bayesian Classification, to C-group asteroid colors in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Previous taxonomic studies relied mostly on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to differentiate asteroids within the C-group (e.g. B, G, F, Ch, Cg and Cb). AutoClass's advantage is that it calculates the most probable classification for us, removing the human factor from this part of the analysis. In our results, AutoClass divided the C-groups into two large classes and six smaller classes. The two large classes (n=4974 and 2033, respectively) display distinct regions with some overlap in color-vs-color plots. Each cluster's average spectrum is compared to 'typical' spectra of the C-group subtypes as defined by Tholen (1989) and each cluster's members are evaluated for consistency with previous taxonomies. Of the 117 asteroids classified as B-type in previous taxonomies, only 12 were found with SDSS colors that matched our criteria of having less than 0.1 magnitude error in u and 0.05 magnitude error in g, r, i, and z colors. Although this is a relatively small group, 11 of the 12 B-types were placed by AutoClass in the same cluster. By determining the C-group sub-classifications in the large SDSS database, this research furthers our understanding of the stratigraphy and composition of the main-belt.