160,758 research outputs found

    Detection of methane on Kuiper Belt Object (50000) Quaoar

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    The near-infrared spectrum of (50000) Quaoar obtained at the Keck Observatory shows distinct absorption features of crystalline water ice, solid methane and ethane, and possibly other higher order hydrocarbons. Quaoar is only the fifth Kuiper belt object on which volatile ices have been detected. The small amount of methane on an otherwise water ice dominated surface suggests that Quaoar is a transition object between the dominant volatile-poor small Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) and the few volatile-rich large KBOs such as Pluto and Eris.Comment: 8 pages, 2 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ

    Detection of Additional Members of the 2003 EL61 Family via Infrared Spectroscopy

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    We have acquired near-infrared spectra of Kuiper belt objects 2003 UZ117, 2005 CB79 and 2004 SB60 with NIRC on the Keck I Telescope. These objects are dynamically close to the core of the 2003 EL61 collisional family and were suggested to be potential fragments of this collision by Ragozzine and Brown (2007). We find that the spectra of 2003 UZ117 and 2005 CB79 both show the characteristic strong water ice absorption features seen exclusively on 2003 EL61, its largest satellite, and the six other known collisional fragments. In contrast, we find that the near infrared spectrum of 2004 SB60 is essentially featureless with a fraction of water ice of less than 5%. We discuss the implications of the discovery of these additional family members for understanding the formation and evolution of this collisional family in the outer solar system.Comment: 9 Pages, 2 figure

    The local extragalactic velocity field, the local mean mass density, and biased galaxy formation

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    The biased galaxy formation picture accounts for the low apparent mass density derived from clustering dynamics by the assumption that the mass per galaxy is unusually low in the regions of high density where clustering has been studied. It would follow that the mass per galaxy is unusually high where the mass density is low, and, by continuity, that the mass per galaxy is close to the global mean in regions where the ambient mass density, p_t, is close to the global mean, P_b. That is, we would expect that the best chance for an unbiased estimate of the mean mass per galaxy, and hence of P_b, would be from the dynamics of regions with p_t ≈ P_b. The local density at redshifts 200 ≾ cz ≾ 400 km s^(-l) must be close to P_b because, as Sandage has emphasized, the local Hubble flow is so little perturbed. In this paper we derive a relationship between the local mass density and the perturbation of the local Hubble flow. The local mass density is estimated by the method used in the Virgocentric flow. We use the infrared Tully-Fisher distances of Aaronson et al. to find limits on the gravitational perturbation to the local Hubble flow, and we use bright galaxy counts, N, to estimate the local galaxy concentration. The statistics on the latter are weak because N is small. We can conclude, however, that if mass were proportional to N, with no fluctuations, and the local mass per galaxy were a fair sample, then the density parameter (Ω = P_b/Einstein-de Sitter density) would be Ω ≈ 0.1, consistent with the other dynamical estimates and inconsistent with the above naive interpretation of biasing

    Near-infrared (NIR) spectra of Centaurs and Kuiper belt objects

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    We present here an extensive survey of near-infrared (NIR) spectra of Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) and Centaurs taken with the Keck I Telescope. We find that most spectra in our sample are well characterized by a combination of water ice and a featureless continuum. A comparative analysis reveals that the NIR spectral properties have little correlation to the visible colors or albedo, with the exception of the fragment KBOs produced from the giant impact on 2003 EL61. The results suggest that the surface composition of KBOs is heterogeneous, though the exposure of water ice may be controlled by geophysical processes. The Centaurs also display diverse spectral properties, but the source of the variability remains unclear. The results for both the KBOs and the Centaurs point to inherent heterogeneity in either the processes acting on these objects or materials from which they formed

    NICMOS Photometry of the Unusual Dwarf Planet Haumea and its Satellites

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    We present here Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS F110W and F160W observations of Haumea, and its two satellites Hi'iaka and Namaka. From the measured (F110W-F160W) colors of –1.208 ± 0.004, –1.48 ± 0.06, and –1.4 ± 0.2 mag for each object, respectively, we infer that the 1.6 μm water-ice absorption feature depths on Hi'iaka and Namaka are at least as deep as that of Haumea. The light curve of Haumea is detected in both filters, and we find that the infrared color is bluer by ~2%-3% at the phase of the red spot. These observations suggest that the satellites of Haumea were formed from the collision that produced the Haumea collisional family

    NASA-ARC 91.5-cm airborne infrared telescope

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    A 91.5 cm aperture telescope installed aboard NASA-Lockheed C-141A aircraft for the performance of infrared astronomy is described. A unique feature of the telescope is that its entire structure is supported by a 41 cm spherical air bearing which effectively uncouples it from aircraft angular motion, and with inertial stabilization and star tracking, limits tracking errors to less than 1 arc second in most applications. A general description of the system, a summary of its performance, and a detailed description of an offset tracking mechanism is presented

    The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 Test of Surfaces in the Outer Solar System: The Compositional Classes of the Kuiper Belt

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    We present the first results of the Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 Test of Surfaces in the Outer Solar System (H/WTSOSS). The purpose of this survey was to measure the surface properties of a large number of Kuiper belt objects and attempt to infer compositional and dynamical correlations. We find that the Centaurs and the low-perihelion scattered disk and resonant objects exhibit virtually identical bifurcated optical colour distributions and make up two well defined groups of object. Both groups have highly correlated optical and NIR colours which are well described by a pair of two component mixture models that have different red components, but share a common neutral component. The small, H6065.6H_{606}\gtrsim5.6 high-perihelion excited objects are entirely consistent with being drawn from the two branches of the mixing model suggesting that the colour bifurcation of the Centaurs is apparent in all small excited objects. On the other hand, objects larger than H6065.6H_{606}\sim5.6 are not consistent with the mixing model, suggesting some evolutionary process avoided by the smaller objects. The existence of a bifurcation amongst all excited populations argues that the two separate classes of object existed in the primordial disk before the excited Kuiper belt was populated. The cold classical objects exhibit a different type of surface which has colours that are consistent with being drawn from the red branch of the mixing model, but with much higher albedos.Comment: Accepted to the Astrophysical Journal. 49 Pages, 15 Figure
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