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Published January 2014 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

The Small Numbers of Large Kuiper Belt Objects


We explore the brightness distribution of the largest and brightest (m(R) < 22) Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). We construct a luminosity function of the dynamically excited or hot Kuiper Belt (orbits with inclinations >5°) from the very brightest to m(R) = 23. We find for m(R) ≾ 23, a single slope appears to describe the luminosity function. We estimate that ~12 KBOs brighter than m(R) ~ 19.5 are present in the Kuiper Belt today. With nine bodies already discovered this suggests that the inventory of bright KBOs is nearly complete.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 November 9; accepted 2013 October 25; published 2013 November 21. This research was supported by NASA Origins of Solar Systems Program grant NNG05GI02G. M.E.S. was supported in part by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship and by an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship under award AST-1003258. M.E.S. is currently supported by an Academia Sinica Postdoctoral Fellowship. The authors especially thank the referee for careful and constructive feedback that significantly improved the contents of this paper. We thank Chris Lintott, Brooke Simmons, Luke Dones, Andy Szymkowiak, and Darin Ragozzine for thoughtful and detailed manuscript comments and suggestions.

Attached Files

Published - 1538-3881_147_1_2.pdf

Submitted - 1310.7049v1.pdf


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