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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[8.02] A Contact Binary in the Kuiper Belt?

S. S. Sheppard (Carnegie Institution of Washington), D. Jewitt (Univ. of Hawaii)

2001 QG298 is the first known Kuiper Belt object and only the third minor planet with a radius > 25 km to display a lightcurve with a range in excess of 1 magnitude. The large light variation, relatively long double-peaked period and absence of rotational color change argue against explanations due to albedo markings or elongation due to high angular momentum. Instead, we suggest that 2001 QG298 may be a very close or contact binary similar in structure to what has been independently proposed for the Trojan asteroid 624 Hektor. By correcting for the effects of projection, we estimate that the fraction of similar objects in the Kuiper Belt is at least ~10% to 20% with the true fraction probably much higher. A high abundance of close and contact binaries is expected in some scenarios for the evolution of binary Kuiper Belt objects. These results are now published in the Astronomical Journal (Sheppard and Jewitt, 2004, AJ, 127, 3023).

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~sheppard/2001qg298.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: sheppard@ifa.hawaii.edu

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