36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 8 Kuiper Belt II: Binaries and Dynamics
Oral, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 8:30-10:00am, Lewis

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[8.04] The Kuiper Belt's luminosity function from mR=22--25.

J-M. Petit (CNRS/Observatoire de Besancon), B. Gladman (UBC), M. Holman (SAO/Harvard CfA), JJ Kavelaars (HIA/NRC), H. Scholl (CNRS/OCA)

In summer 1999, we performed a survey optimized for discovery of new irregular satellites of Uranus and Neptune. During this 4-night observing run, we imaged 11.85 square degrees of sky and discovered 66 new outer solar system objects (not counting the three new uranian satellites). This paper concerns the trans-neptunian objects discovered behind the two giant planets.

After fully characterizing this survey's detection efficiency as function of object magnitude and rate of motion, we find that the apparent luminosity function of the trans-neptunian region in the range mR=22--25 is steep (with a best fit cumulative power law index of a~0.76 with one object per square degree estimated at magnitude Ro=23.3. This steep slope, corresponding to a differential size index of q~5, is in line with other recent analyses for the luminosity function brighter than 25th magnitude.

After combining our results with our previous surveys fainter than 25th magnitude we find interesting but not conclusive evidence for a roll-over, the evidence for which is complicated by the variation in surface density with latitude in the Kuiper Belt. The even steeper slope then implied for objects brighter than the roll-over in the luminosity function has implications for whether an outer edge of the Kuiper belt should have been detected in previous bright TNO surveys.

Analysis of the orbital inclination of these short-arc orbits seems to support previous claims of a two component distribution, one fairly confined to the plane (< 5 degrees) and a more excited one (i ~15 degrees).

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: petit@obs-besancon.fr

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.