High Resolution Search for KBO Binaries from New Horizons

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2022

H. A. Weaver, S. B. Porter, J. R. Spencer, The New Horizons Science Team

Using the New Horizons LORRI camera, we searched for satellites near five Kuiper belt objects (KBOs): four cold classicals (CCs: 2011 JY31, 2014 OS393, 2014 PN70, 2011 HZ102) and one scattered disk object (SD: 2011 HK103). These objects were observed at distances of 0.092-0.290 au from the New Horizons spacecraft, achieving spatial resolutions of 136-430 km (resolution is ~2 camera pixels), much higher than possible from any other facilities. Here we report that CC 2011 JY31 is a binary system with roughly equal brightness components, CC 2014 OS393 is likely an equal brightness binary system, while the three other KBOs did not show any evidence of binarity. The 2011 JY31 binary has a semi-major axis of 198.6 +/- 2.9 km, an orbital inclination of 61.34 +/- 1.34 deg, and an orbital period of 1.940 +/- 0.002 d. The 2014 OS393 binary objects have an apparent separation of ~150 km, making 2011 JY31 and 2014 OS393 the tightest KBO binary systems ever resolved. Both 2011 HK103 and 2011 HZ102 were detected with SNR~10, and our observations rule out equal brightness binaries with separations larger than ~430 km and ~260 km, respectively. The spatial resolution for 2014 PN70 was ~200 km, but this object had SNR~2.5-3, which limited our ability to probe its binarity. The binary frequency for the CC binaries probed in our small survey (67%, not including 2014 PN70) is consistent with the high binary frequency suggested by larger surveys of CCs (Fraser et al. 2017, Noll et al. 2020) and recent planetesimal formation models (Nesvorny et al. 2021), but we extend the results to smaller orbit semi-major axes and smaller objects than previously possible.

Comments: 30 pages, 15 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:2201.05940 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2201.05940v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Harold Weaver Jr

[v1] Sun, 16 Jan 2022 00:54:03 UTC (10,802 KB)

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