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C. A. Trujillo, M. E. Brown, J.-L. Margot (Caltech), F. Bertoldi (MPI fr Radioastronomie)
We have surveyed over 2000 square degrees of sky near the invariable plane for Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) to limiting red magnitude R=21.0 from the 1.2-m Oschin telescope at Palomar Mountain, exceeding previously published wide-field surveys sensitive to KBOs by about a factor of 4 in sky area and a magnitude in depth. Our survey and a rigorous recovery program at the Palomar 1.5-m telescope is responsible for the discovery of 8 new bright Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and 2 new bright Centaurs, as well as 7 previously known KBOs and 1 previously known Centaur. Among the newly detected objects is 2002 AW197, the second brightest KBO to date in terms of absolute magnitude. We have measured the thermal emission from this object with the IRAM telescope within a month of its discovery.
We report on several aspects of the bright KBOs, including: (1) the bright KBOs are found with preferentially high inclinations compared to fainter objects, confirming the findings of Levison and Stern (2001); (2) thermal observations of 2002 AW197 combined with measurements of KBO (20000) Varuna (Jewitt, Aussel and Evans 2001) indicate that the albedos of KBOs are significantly higher than previously expected from observations of Centaurs and cometary nuclei; and (3) to date, no bright KBOs beyond 48 AU have been discovered, although our survey is sensitive to bright objects with heliocentric distances as large as 90 AU. We will also discuss the future direction of this project, as this fall, the Oschin telescope will be outfitted with a 10 square degree field of view CCD camera, about three times larger than the current CCD camera.
This project was funded by the NASA Planetary Astronomy Program.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.