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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[52.10] Studies of Kuiper Belt Binaries

S. D. Kern, J. L. Elliot (MIT)

Employing the Magellan telescopes and MagIC, a high resolution imager, we have been conducting studies of Kuiper Belt binaries (KBB) over the last three years. To date, three KBBs have been discovered with this system, 2001QT297, 2003QY90 and 2005EO304. Based on observations at Magellan and our participation in the Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES; Millis et al. 2002, Elliot et al. 2005) we estimate the distribution of KBBs at different separations, supporting theoretical models for binary formation that suggest fewer KBBs at wide separations. We present a refined orbit (updated from Osip et al. 2003) for 2001QT297, and preliminary orbit information for 2003QY90 (Kern & Elliot 2005), 2003UN284 and 2005EO304. The refined orbit for 2001QT297 yields a period of 825+/-3 days, a semi-major axis of 27300+/-343 km and a system mass of (2.36+/-0.01)x10^18 kg. For a density of 1000 kg/m^3 the albedo common to both components is 13%. 2003QY90 has an orbital period of 130-340 days with a system mass of 1-10x10^18 kg. HST observations in Cycle 14 will allow us to accurately determine the orbit and system mass. Separable lightcurve observations at one epoch indicate that both the primary and secondary components of this system are highly variable.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.