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Published September 10, 2010 | Accepted Version + Published
Journal Article Open

Properties of the Distant Kuiper Belt: Results from the Palomar Distant Solar System Survey


We present the results of a wide-field survey using the 1.2 m Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory. This survey was designed to find the most distant members of the Kuiper Belt and beyond. We searched ~12,000 deg^2 down to a mean limiting magnitude of 21.3 in R. A total number of 52 Kuiper Belt objects and Centaurs have been detected, 25 of which were discovered in this survey. Except for the redetection of Sedna, no additional Sedna-like bodies with perihelia greater than 45 AU were detected despite sensitivity out to distances of 1000 AU. We discuss the implications for a distant Sedna-like population beyond the Kuiper Belt, focusing on the constraints we can place on the embedded stellar cluster environment the early Sun may be have been born in, where the location and distribution of Sedna-like orbits sculpted by multiple stellar encounters is indicative of the birth cluster size. We also report our observed latitude distribution and implications for the size of the plutino population.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 June 3; accepted 2010 July 17; published 2010 August 25. This research is supported by NASA Origins of Solar Systems Program grant NNG05GI02G. M.E.S. is supported by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. We are indebted to Ramon Brasser and Nathan Kaib for sharing the results of their cluster integrations and to J. J. Kavellaars, Brett Gladman, and Samantha Lawler for providing us with the nominal CFEPS plutino model. We thank the staff at Palomar Observatory for their dedicated support of the robotic operation of the Samuel Oschin Telescope and QUEST camera. The authors also thank Greg Aldering for his help in scheduling the observations. We acknowledge Mansi Kasliwal, Henry Roe, John Subasavage, Emily Schaller, and Richard Walters for their assistance with recovery observations of our new discoveries. We recognize the work of Christian Clanton for support in developing the dynamical integration tools. We also thank Wes Fraser, Ramon Brasser, and Nathan Kaib for insightful conversations. Facilities: PO:1.2m

Attached Files

Published - Schwamb2010p11443Astrophys_J.pdf

Accepted Version - 1007.2954.pdf


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