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Title: De-biased populations of Kuiper belt objects from the deep ecliptic survey

The Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES) was a survey project that discovered hundreds of Kuiper Belt objects from 1998 to 2005. Extensive follow-up observations of these bodies has yielded 304 objects with well-determined orbits and dynamical classifications into one of several categories: Classical, Scattered, Centaur, or 16 mean-motion resonances with Neptune. The DES search fields are well documented, enabling us to calculate the probability on each frame of detecting an object with its particular orbital parameters and absolute magnitude at a randomized point in its orbit. The detection probabilities range from a maximum of 0.32 for the 3:2 resonant object 2002 GF {sub 32} to a minimum of 1.5 × 10{sup –7} for the faint Scattered object 2001 FU {sub 185}. By grouping individual objects together by dynamical classes, we can estimate the distributions of four parameters that define each class: semimajor axis, eccentricity, inclination, and object size. The orbital element distributions (a, e, and i) were fit to the largest three classes (Classical, 3:2, and Scattered) using a maximum likelihood fit. Using the absolute magnitude (H magnitude) as a proxy for the object size, we fit a power law to the number of objects versus H magnitude for eight classesmore » with at least five detected members (246 objects). The Classical objects are best fit with a power-law slope of α = 1.02 ± 0.01 (observed from 5 ≤ H ≤ 7.2). Six other dynamical classes (Scattered plus five resonances) have consistent magnitude distribution slopes with the Classicals, provided that the absolute number of objects is scaled. Scattered objects are somewhat more numerous than Classical objects, while there are only a quarter as many 3:2 objects as Classicals. The exception to the power law relation is the Centaurs, which are non-resonant objects with perihelia closer than Neptune and therefore brighter and detectable at smaller sizes. Centaurs were observed from 7.5 < H < 11, and that population is best fit by a power law with α = 0.42 ± 0.02. This is consistent with a knee in the H-distribution around H = 7.2 as reported elsewhere. Based on the Classical-derived magnitude distribution, the total number of objects (H ≤ 7) in each class is: Classical (2100 ± 300 objects), Scattered (2800 ± 400), 3:2 (570 ± 80), 2:1 (400 ± 50), 5:2 (270 ± 40), 7:4 (69 ± 9), 5:3 (60 ± 8). The independent estimate for the number of Centaurs in the same H range is 13 ± 5. If instead all objects are divided by inclination into 'Hot' and 'Cold' populations, following Fraser et al., we find that α{sub Hot} = 0.90 ± 0.02, while α{sub Cold} = 1.32 ± 0.02, in good agreement with that work.« less
;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6]
  1. Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719 (United States)
  2. The Southern African Large Telescope and South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, 7935 (South Africa)
  3. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 (United States)
  4. Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238 (United States)
  5. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University, S San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86011 (United States)
  6. Lowell Observatory, 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astronomical Journal (New York, N.Y. Online); Journal Volume: 148; Journal Issue: 3; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States