DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 7. Centaurs and Kuiper Belt Objects I
Oral, Chair(s): M.E. Brown and D.P. Cruikshank, Monday, October 7, 2002, 2:30-3:30 and 4:00-4:30pm, Ballroom

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[7.06] Spectrophotometry of Kuiper Belt Objects and Centaurs

S. M. Lederer (NASA Johnson Space Center), F. Vilas (NASA Headquarters)

We present an ongoing study of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and Centaurs. We acquired broadband (UBVRI) and medium band photometry with the 4m Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak and the 1.8m Perkins telescope at Lowell Observatory. We present broadband colors of these objects and discuss the results of our search for absorption bands in the visible spectral region.

Vilas (Icarus, 111) demonstrated that the existence of the 0.7um absorption feature in asteroids with solar-like colors was strongly correlated with the presence of the 3.0um water of hydration feature. The broad 0.7um absorption band is attributed to a charge-transfer in Fe-bearing hydrated silicates (phyllosilicates), which are a product of aqueous alteration. For aqueous alteration to take place, one must have water ice present in an object, and an energy source to heat the water ice to a liquid water phase. Water ice has already been discovered in some Centaurs (Luu et al. ApJ, 531; Brown AJ, 119), and Durda and Stern (Icarus, 145) estimate that KBOs experience collisional processing regularly throughout their lifetimes. The estimated impact energies are high enough to induce aqueous alteration.

We undertook this study to search for evidence of the 0.7um feature in KBOs and Centaurs. We employed medium band Windhorst filters, located at 0.527, 0.666, 0.705, 0.755 and 0.848 um in conjunction with the Mosaic CCD to search for this absorption band, which extends from 0.57-0.83um. Initial analysis suggests that an absorption feature exists near 0.7um in the greyer objects but not the redder objects, following the correlations observed in asteroids. These data are consistent with the absorption band detected near 0.7um by de Bergh et al. (ACM 2002, Berlin) in visible spectra of 2000 EB173 and 2000 GN171. However, further analysis is required to confirm whether the absorption we see is due to phyllosilicates or another source. We will present the results from this analysis.

This research was supported through the National Research Council Associateships program and the NASA Planetary Astronomy program.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.