37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 52 TNOs and Centaurs
Oral, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 2:00-3:50pm, Law LG19

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[52.08] The Relationship Between KBO Colors and Kuiper-belt Plane Inclination

J.F. Kane, A.A.S. Gulbis, J.L. Elliot (MIT)

The colors of Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) can indicate different compositions, environmental conditions, or formation characteristics within the Kuiper belt. Photometric color observations of these objects, combined with dynamical information, can provide insight into their composition, the extent to which space-weathering or impact gardening have played a role in surface modification, and the processes at work during the formation of our solar system. Data from the Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES; Millis et al., 2002, AJ, 123, 2083) have been used to determine the plane of the Kuiper belt, identifying "core" and "halo" populations with respect to this plane (Elliot et al. 2005, AJ, 129, 1117). Gulbis et al. (2005, Icarus, submitted) found the colors of the core KBOs, those having inclinations within approximately 4.6 degrees of the Kuiper-belt plane, to be primarily red, unlike the halo objects. We have combined newly obtained Sloan g', r', and i' observations from the 6.5-m Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory of 12 KBOs with previously published data to examine the transition between these populations as a function of color. By comparing the colors of objects as a function of inclination, we can establish trends distinguishing the core and halo populations. For inclination bins containing equal numbers of KBOs, we find that the percentage of red objects (B-R > median B-R of the sample) decreases in a smooth, but nonlinear fashion.

This research is partially supported by an MIT fellowship, an NSF GSRF and NSF grant AST0406493.

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