DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 6. Kuiper Belt and KBOs I: Extent and Character
Oral, Chairs: D. Jewitt, S. Lederer, Tuesday, November 27, 2001, 2:00-3:20pm, Regency GH

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[6.05] Multiplicity in the Kuiper Belt: The First Discovery of a Binary Trans-Neptunian Object

C. Veillet (CFHT), J.W. Parker (SwRI), I.P. Griffin (STScI), B.G. Marsden (SAO), A. Doressoundiram (Observatoire de Paris), D.J. Tholen (Univ. of Hawaii), M.W. Buie (Lowell Obs.), M.J. Holman (SAO)

Although it was generally assumed that some fraction of asteroids should have binary or multiple components, it wasn't until recently that the first binary asteroid was unambiguously discovered. Since then, a few more main belt binary asteroids have been found, as well as three binary near earth asteroids. Another reservoir of minor planets is the Kuiper belt, a large population of small bodies beyond Neptune that are believed to be the sources for short-period comets. Currently, over 400 of these trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) are known, which one may also include Pluto and its moon Charon as not only the first TNOs discovered, but the first known binary TNO system. Due to the Kuiper belt's distance from Earth, it seemed unlikely that other binary TNOs could be discovered at the present. However, we report here on the discovery and orbit of the ``first'' binary TNO, 1998 WW31, based on ground-based and Hubble Space Telescope observations. With an orbital period of the order of 600 days and an eccentricity larger than 0.5, the pair is indeed very different from the Pluto/Charon system. Physical properties of the components, derived from the observed orbital parameters, will be presented.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/~veillet/ww31.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: veillet@cfht.hawaii.edu

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