Size and albedo of Kuiper belt object 55636 from a stellar occultation

Elliot, J. L. and Person, M. J. and Zuluaga, C. A. and Bosh, A. S. and Adams, E. R. and Brothers, T. C. and Gulbis, A. A. S. and Levine, S. E. and Lockhart, M. and Zangari, A. M. and Babcock, B. A. and DuPre, K. and Pasachoff, J. M. and Souza, S. P. and Rosing, W. and Secrest, N. and Bright, L. and Dunham, E. W. and Sheppard, S. S. and Kakkala, M. and Tilleman, T. and Berger, B. and Briggs, J. W. and Jacobson, G. and Valleli, P. and Volz, B. and Rapoport, S. and Hart, R. and Brucker, M. and Michel, R. and Mattingly, A. and Zambrano-Marin, L. and Meyer, A. W. and Wolf, J. and Ryan, E. V. and Ryan, W. H. and Morzinski, K. and Grigsby, B. and Brimacombe, J. and Montano, H. G. and Gilmore, A. (2010) Size and albedo of Kuiper belt object 55636 from a stellar occultation. Nature, 465 (7300). pp. 897-900. ISSN 0028-0836


The Kuiper belt is a collection of small bodies (Kuiper belt objects, KBOs) that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune and which are believed to have formed contemporaneously with the planets. Their small size and great distance make them difficult to study. KBO 55636 (2002 TX300) is a member of the water-ice-rich Haumea KBO collisional family. The Haumea family are among the most highly reflective objects in the Solar System. Dynamical calculations indicate that the collision that created KBO 55636 occurred at least 1 Gyr ago. Here we report observations of a multi-chord stellar occultation by KBO 55636, which occurred on 9 October 2009 ut. We find that it has a mean radius of 143 ± 5 km (assuming a circular solution). Allowing for possible elliptical shapes, we find a geometric albedo of in the V photometric band, which establishes that KBO 55636 is smaller than previously thought and that, like its parent body, it is highly reflective. The dynamical age implies either that KBO 55636 has an active resurfacing mechanism, or that fresh water-ice in the outer Solar System can persist for gigayear timescales.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - No Department
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2012 01:56
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2014 02:37
Uncontrolled Keywords: albedo; collision; Neptune; solar system; timescale
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020108 Planetary Science (excl. Extraterrestrial Geology)
01 Mathematical Sciences > 0102 Applied Mathematics > 010204 Dynamical Systems in Applications
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1038/nature09109

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