A Caltech Library Service

Search for CO gas in Pluto, Centaurs and Kuiper Belt objects at radio wavelengths

Bockelée-Morvan, D. and Lellouch, E. and Biver, N. and Paubert, G. and Bauer, J. and Colom, P. and Lis, D. C. (2001) Search for CO gas in Pluto, Centaurs and Kuiper Belt objects at radio wavelengths. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 377 (1). pp. 343-353. ISSN 0004-6361. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20011040.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We have searched for several rotational lines of CO in the Pluto-Charon system, Centaurs (Chiron, Pholus, Nessus, Asbolus, Chariklo and 1998 SG35) and Kuiper Belt objects (1994 TB, 1996 TL66, 1996 TO66, 1996 TP66 and 1998 WH4). The observations were performed with the 30 m telescope of the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique for Pluto/Charon, and with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Caltech Submillimeter Observatory for Centaurs and Kuiper Belt objects. A tentative 4.5-σ J(2-1) CO line is present in the Pluto/Charon spectrum, which requires further confirmation. Assuming that Charon does not contribute to the CO emission, an upper limit of 1.2% and 7% is obtained for the CO/N_2 mixing ratio in Pluto's atmosphere, using the atmospheric thermal structure derived from the Stansberry et al. (1994, Icarus 111, 503) and Strobel et al. (1996, Icarus 120, 266) models, respectively. These upper limits are more constraining (by more than a factor of 6) than the upper limits reported by Young et al. (2001, Icarus, in press) from near-IR spectroscopy. None of the Centaurs or Kuiper Belt objects (KBO) were detected in CO. The CO production rate upper limit obtained for Chiron (3-5 x 10^(27) mol s^(-1)) over 1998-2000 years is a factor of 10 lower than the CO production rate derived from the marginal CO detection obtained in June 1995 by Womack & Stern ([CITE], Astron. Vestnik 33, 216), using same modelling of CO emission. Upper limits obtained for other Centaurs are typically ~10^(28) mol s^(-1), and between 1 and 5 x 10^(28) mol s^(-1) for the best observed KBOs. The comparison between these upper limits and the CO outgassing rates of comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) measured at large distances from the Sun shows that Centaurs and KBOs underwent significant CO-devolatilization since their formation.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Lis, D. C.0000-0002-0500-4700
Additional Information:© 2001 ESO. Article published by EDP Sciences. Received 13 June 2001; Accepted 4 July 2001; Published online 15 October 2001. We thank S. Sheppard and J. K. Davies for their help during the CSO and JCMT observations. N. Biver was supported partly by a JCMT fellowship at the University of Hawaii. This work was supported by the Programme national de planétologie de l'Institut national des sciences de l'univers (INSU) and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). The JCMT is operated by the Joint Astronomy Centre on behalf of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council of the United Kingdom, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and the National Research Council of Canada. The CSO is supported by the National Science Foundation grant AST 99-80846.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
University of HawaiiUNSPECIFIED
Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers (INSU)UNSPECIFIED
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)UNSPECIFIED
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)UNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)UNSPECIFIED
National Research Council of CanadaUNSPECIFIED
NSFAST 99-80846
Subject Keywords:planets and satellites: Pluto - Kuiper Belt - minor planets, asteroids - radio lines: solar system
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180213-102902534
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Search for CO gas in Pluto, Centaurs and Kuiper Belt objects at radio wavelengths D. Bockelée-Morvan, E. Lellouch, N. Biver, G. Paubert, J. Bauer, P. Colom and D. C. Lis A&A, 377 1 (2001) 343-353. DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84812
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Feb 2018 19:37
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:23

Repository Staff Only: item control page