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Published January 2008 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

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


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.

Additional Information

© 2007 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2007 July 13, accepted for publication 2007 August 26. Published 2007 November 29. Print publication: Issue 1 (2008 January) This research is funded by the California Institute of Technology and is also supported by the NASA Planetary Astronomy program. Data presented herein were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation. The authors thank Darin Ragozzine, Deanne Rogers, Timothy Glotch, and Oded Aharonson for their helpful discussions regarding this paper. We also thank Antonin Bouchez and Megan Scwamb for their help during observations.

Attached Files

Published - BARaj08.pdf

Supplemental Material - BARaj08table2.pdf


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