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Analysis of the rotational properties of Kuiper belt objects

By SpaceRef Editor
March 18, 2006
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Analysis of the rotational properties of Kuiper belt objects

Astrophysics, abstract

From: Pedro Lacerda [view email]
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 02:49:57 GMT   (315kb)

Analysis of the rotational properties of Kuiper belt objects

Pedro Lacerda,
Jane Luu

Comments: 15 pages, 14 figures, LaTeX. Astronomical Journal in press

We use optical data on 10 Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) to investigate their
rotational properties. Of the 10, three (30%) exhibit light variations with
amplitude delta_m >= 0.15 mag, and 1 out of 10 (10%) has delta_m >= 0.40 mag,
which is in good agreement with previous surveys. These data, in combination
with the existing database, are used to discuss the rotational periods, shapes,
and densities of Kuiper Belt objects. We find that, in the sampled size range,
Kuiper Belt objects have a higher fraction of low amplitude lightcurves and
rotate slower than main belt asteroids. The data also show that the rotational
properties and the shapes of KBOs depend on size. If we split the database of
KBO rotational properties into two size ranges with diameter larger and smaller
than 400 km, we find that: (1) the mean lightcurve amplitudes of the two groups
are different with 98.5% confidence, (2) the corresponding power-law shape
distributions seem to be different, although the existing data are too sparse
to render this difference significant, and (3) the two groups occupy different
regions on a spin period vs. lightcurve amplitude diagram. These differences
are interpreted in the context of KBO collisional evolution.

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