AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 130. The Sun and Solar System Studies
Oral, Thursday, January 9, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 618-619

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[130.05] The Kuiper Belt Luminosity Function

L. Allen (Univerisity of British Columbia)

The luminosity function of Kuiper Belt Objects (the number of KBOs brighter than R per square degree) reflects their underlying size and distance distributions. The size distribution is important for understanding accretion and collisional processes at work on these remnant planetesimals, and the radial distance distribution provides clues to the extent and density of the primordial solar nebula. Currently, this luminosity function is fit by a simple power law, \log \, \Sigma(mR < R)\, (\rm NKBO/deg2) = \alpha\,(R-Ro).

We test the compatibility of the present data with a "broken" luminosity function, where the value of \alpha changes at faint magnitudes. This change in \alpha could be due to lack of distant observed KBOs (an outer "edge") or due to a lack of small KBOs (the result of a change in the size distribution). The effects of each of these will be discussed, as well as limits that will come out of an upcoming survey for faint (R=28) KBOs to be conducted with HST and the ACS camera.

This work is supported by an NSF International Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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