DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 49. KBO and Centaurs I
Oral, Chairs: M. Buie and S. A. Stern, Saturday, September 6, 2003, 3:30-5:40pm, DeAnza III

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[49.08] Comparison of the Heliocentric and Absolute Magnitude Distributions of KBOs with Satellites to Other KBOs

S.A. Stern (SwRI)

Over the past two years, 9 KBO-satellite pairs have been discovered by observers. Including Pluto-Charon, there is therefore now a small but interesting total sample of 10 objects with known satellites in the Kuiper Belt. The origin of these bodies is a topic of considerable current interes. Indeed, a considerable variety of formation mechanisms, ranging from physical collisions to three body and collective dynamical effects, have been proposed. As one guidepost for discriminating between the various KBO satellite origin (and retention) scenarios, the a,e,i orbital distributions of all multi-opposition KBOs and those KBOs with satellites were compared; the absolute (H) magnitude distributions of these two populations were also compared. The qualitative (histogram plots) and quantitative (statistical test) results of these comparisons will be shown. As will be described, there is- with the exception of the absence of discovered satellites around Scattered Belt KBOs- a striking lack of difference in either the orbital or H-mag distributions of the KBO population in general, and the nascent population of KBOs with satellites. The general implications of this result will be discussed. This work was funded by NASA.

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