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An Analysis of the Statistics of the Hubble Space Telescope Kuiper Belt Object Search

Brown, Michael E. and Kulkarni, Shrinivas R. and Liggett, Timothy J. (1997) An Analysis of the Statistics of the Hubble Space Telescope Kuiper Belt Object Search. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 490 (1). L119-L122. ISSN 2041-8205. doi:10.1086/311009.

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We calculate statistical limits to the detection of Kuiper belt objects in the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data of Cochran et al., in which they report the discovery of a population of Halley-sized objects in Pluto-like orbits. Detection of a population of faint objects in these data is limited by the number of false objects that appear owing only to random noise; the number of real objects must exceed the uncertainty in the number of these false objects for the population to be observable. We determine the number of false objects expected owing to random noise in the data of Cochran et al. by measuring the pixel-to-pixel noise level in the raw HST data and propagating this noise through the detection method employed by Cochran et al. We find that the uncertainty in the number of false objects exceeds by 2 orders of magnitude the reported number of objects detected by Cochran et al. The detection of such a population of Halley-sized Kuiper belt objects with these data is therefore not possible.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Brown, Michael E.0000-0002-8255-0545
Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Additional Information:© 1997 American Astronomical Society. Received 1997 June 26; accepted 1997 September 4; published 1997 October 22. This research was supported by grant HF-01056-94A from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Space Telescope Science InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:methods: statistical; comets: general
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120928-155202919
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Official Citation:An Analysis of the Statistics of the Hubble Space Telescope Kuiper Belt Object Search Michael E. Brown et al. 1997 ApJ 490 L119
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:34556
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:02 Oct 2012 15:13
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:09

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