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Published March 20, 2006 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Water Ice on the Satellite of Kuiper Belt Object 2003 EL₆₁


We have obtained a near-infrared spectrum of the brightest satellite of the large Kuiper Belt object 2003 EL_(61). The spectrum has absorption features at 1.5 and 2.0 μm, indicating that water ice is present on the surface. We find that the satellite's absorption lines are much deeper than water ice features typically found on Kuiper Belt objects. We argue that the unusual spectrum indicates that the satellite was likely formed by impact and not by capture.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 January 24; accepted 2006 February 3; published 2006 February 28. The authors thank Chad Trujillo, David Rabinowitz, and Robin Canup for their helpful discussions regarding this Letter. We also thank Antonin Bouchez for his help during observations and our anonymous reviewer for the constructive comments. 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.

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Published - 1538-4357_640_1_L87.pdf

Submitted - 0601534.pdf


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