DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 39. KBO and Centaurs II
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[39.20] A Deep Keck Search for Binary Kuiper Belt Objects

E.L. Schaller, M.E. Brown (California Institute of Technology)

1.5 % of known Kuiper Belt Objects have been found to have a satellite. Many of these satellites are of a similar magnitude to their primary bodies, possibly the result of observational selection effects. In this study, we obtained deep Keck images of over 150 Kuiper Belt Objects to determine if any of these bodies have faint, overlooked satellites. We have constrained the maximum relative separations and magnitudes that companions to each of these objects could have.

Formation of binary systems in the outer solar system cannot occur under current conditions (Goldreich et al. 2002; Weidenschilling 2002). Therefore, it is believed that Kuiper Belt binary systems are primordial. Abundances and orbital distributions of binary objects can shed light on the initial Kuiper Belt mass, on excitation events that have occurred in the outer solar system, and on the formation mechanism of the binaries themselves. We will comment on the applicability of our dataset to these questions.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.