A Caltech Library Service

Volatile Loss and Retention on Kuiper Belt Objects

Schaller, E. L. and Brown, M. E. (2007) Volatile Loss and Retention on Kuiper Belt Objects. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 659 (1). L61-L64. ISSN 2041-8205. doi:10.1086/516709.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Recent discoveries have shown that the very largest Kuiper Belt objects—Eris, 2005 FY9, and Sedna—are coated in methane and may contain other volatile ices as well. New detailed observations show that even within this class of volatile-rich bodies, unexpected differences exist in their surface compositions. 2005 FY9, a body approximately 60% the size of Pluto, with a reflectance spectrum similarly dominated by methane, has a surface depleted in molecular nitrogen by at least an order of magnitude with respect to Pluto. We find that the existence of this new class of volatile-rich objects, the lack of volatiles on most Kuiper Belt objects, and even the otherwise peculiar surface of 2005 FY9 can be explained as a consequence of atmospheric escape of volatile compounds. While previous studies of the surface compositions of objects in the Kuiper Belt have found no explainable patterns, atmospheric escape appears to provide a first-order explanation of the range of surface spectra seen on bodies in the outer solar system.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Brown, M. E.0000-0002-8255-0545
Additional Information:© 2007 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 November 6; accepted 2007 February 23; published 2007 March 14. We thank John Stansberry for a helpful review and David Stevenson, Kristina Barkume, Henry Roe, Oded Aharonson, and Re’em Sari for helpful discussions.
Subject Keywords:Kuiper Belt; planets and satellites : general
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100218-111504975
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Volatile Loss and Retention on Kuiper Belt Objects E. L. Schaller and M. E. Brown 2007 ApJ 659 L61-L64 doi: 10.1086/516709
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:17521
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Feb 2010 17:46
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:36

Repository Staff Only: item control page