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B. Gladman (Observatoire de Nice), J.J. Kavelaars (McMaster University), J.M. Petit, A. Morbidelli (Observatoire de Nice), M. Holman (SAO Harvard), T. Loredo (Cornell)
We present results from a series of deep imaging surveys designed to look for very faint objects in the outer solar system. We find roughly 10-20 percent of our detections outside a heliocentric distance of 48 AU, a much larger fraction than all previously published surveys. The implications of this result for the radial structure of the Kuiper Belt will be discussed, as well as how it interacts with various theories regarding the sculpting of the orbital distribution of the trans-Neptunian region. We find a luminosity function with a continuing steep slope down to the limit of our detections at about 26th magnitude, implying that observations are just on the threshold of reaching the level where the TNO size distribution is exptected to `roll over' to a shallower collisional slope. The size distribution in the observed region is expected to hold information about the time scale and physics of planetesimal building in the early outer Solar System.
This work has been supported by a Henri Chretien international research grant (AAS), by NASA Origins grants NAG5-8198 and NAG5-9678, by an ACI Jeune award from the French Research Ministry, and an Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur BQR grant.