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Title: A HYPOTHESIS FOR THE COLOR DIVERSITY OF THE KUIPER BELT

Abstract

We propose a chemical and dynamical process to explain the surface colors of the Kuiper belt. In our hypothesis, the initial bulk compositions of the bodies themselves can be quite diverse-as is seen in comets-but the early surface compositions are set by volatile evaporation after the objects are formed. Strong gradients in surface composition, coupled with UV and particle irradiation, lead to the surface colors that are seen today. The objects formed in the inner part of the primordial belt retain only H{sub 2}O and CO{sub 2} as the major ice species on their surfaces. Irradiation of these species plausibly results in the dark neutrally colored centaurs and Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). Object formed further in the disk retain CH{sub 3}OH, which has been shown to lead to brighter redder surfaces after irradiation, as seen in the brighter redder centaurs and KBOs. Objects formed at the current location of the cold classical Kuiper belt uniquely retain NH{sub 3}, which has been shown to affect irradiation chemistry and could plausibly lead to the unique colors of these objects. We propose observational and experimental tests of this hypothesis.

Authors:
;  [1];  [2]
  1. Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
  2. NASA Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, Palmdale, CA 93550 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21565420
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Astrophysical Journal Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 739; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L60; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8205
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; AMMONIA; CARBON DIOXIDE; COLOR; HYPOTHESIS; METHANOL; PLANETS; SURFACES; WATER; ALCOHOLS; CARBON COMPOUNDS; CARBON OXIDES; CHALCOGENIDES; HYDRIDES; HYDROGEN COMPOUNDS; HYDROXY COMPOUNDS; NITROGEN COMPOUNDS; NITROGEN HYDRIDES; OPTICAL PROPERTIES; ORGANIC COMPOUNDS; ORGANOLEPTIC PROPERTIES; OXIDES; OXYGEN COMPOUNDS; PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

Citation Formats

Brown, M. E., Fraser, W. C., and Schaller, E. L., E-mail: mbrown@caltech.edu. A HYPOTHESIS FOR THE COLOR DIVERSITY OF THE KUIPER BELT. United States: N. p., 2011. Web. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L60.
Brown, M. E., Fraser, W. C., & Schaller, E. L., E-mail: mbrown@caltech.edu. A HYPOTHESIS FOR THE COLOR DIVERSITY OF THE KUIPER BELT. United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L60.
Brown, M. E., Fraser, W. C., and Schaller, E. L., E-mail: mbrown@caltech.edu. Sat . "A HYPOTHESIS FOR THE COLOR DIVERSITY OF THE KUIPER BELT". United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L60.
@article{osti_21565420,
title = {A HYPOTHESIS FOR THE COLOR DIVERSITY OF THE KUIPER BELT},
author = {Brown, M. E. and Fraser, W. C. and Schaller, E. L., E-mail: mbrown@caltech.edu},
abstractNote = {We propose a chemical and dynamical process to explain the surface colors of the Kuiper belt. In our hypothesis, the initial bulk compositions of the bodies themselves can be quite diverse-as is seen in comets-but the early surface compositions are set by volatile evaporation after the objects are formed. Strong gradients in surface composition, coupled with UV and particle irradiation, lead to the surface colors that are seen today. The objects formed in the inner part of the primordial belt retain only H{sub 2}O and CO{sub 2} as the major ice species on their surfaces. Irradiation of these species plausibly results in the dark neutrally colored centaurs and Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). Object formed further in the disk retain CH{sub 3}OH, which has been shown to lead to brighter redder surfaces after irradiation, as seen in the brighter redder centaurs and KBOs. Objects formed at the current location of the cold classical Kuiper belt uniquely retain NH{sub 3}, which has been shown to affect irradiation chemistry and could plausibly lead to the unique colors of these objects. We propose observational and experimental tests of this hypothesis.},
doi = {10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L60},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
issn = {2041-8205},
number = 2,
volume = 739,
place = {United States},
year = {2011},
month = {10}
}