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Published November 20, 2007 | Published + Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Detection of Methane on Kuiper Belt Object (50000) Quaoar


The near-infrared spectrum of (50000) Quaoar obtained at the Keck Observatory shows distinct absorption features of crystalline water ice, solid methane, and ethane, and possibly other higher order hydrocarbons. Quaoar is only the fifth Kuiper Belt object (KBO) on which volatile ices have been detected. The small amount of methane on an otherwise water ice-dominated surface suggests that Quaoar is a transition object between the dominant volatile-poor small KBOs and the few volatile-rich large KBOs such as Pluto and Eris.

Additional Information

© 2007 American Astronomical Society. Print publication: Issue 1 (2007 November 20); received 2007 September 6; accepted for publication 2007 October 4; published 2007 October 25. We thank an anonymous referee for a helpful review. E. L. S. is supported by a NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship. The 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.

Attached Files

Published - SCHAapjl07b.pdf

Accepted Version - 0710.3591.pdf


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August 22, 2023
October 20, 2023