Near Infrared Surface Properties of the Two Intrinsically Brightest Minor Planets (90377) Sedna and (90482) Orcus

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Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2005

image Astrophysics, abstract

From: Chadwick A. Trujillo [view email]
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 20:00:27 GMT   (479kb)
Near Infrared Surface Properties of the Two Intrinsically Brightest Minor Planets (90377) Sedna and (90482) Orcus
Authors: Chadwick A. Trujillo, Michael E. Brown, David L. Rabinowitz, Thomas R. Geballe
Comments: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal
We present low resolution K band spectra taken at the Gemini 8 meter telescope of (90377) Sedna and (90482) Orcus (provisional designations 2003 VB12 and 2004 DW, respectively), currently the two minor planets with the greatest absolute magnitudes (i.e. the two most reflective minor planets). We place crude limits on the surface composition of these two bodies using a Hapke model for a wide variety of assumed albedos. The unusual minor planet (90377) Sedna was discovered on November 14, 2003 UT at roughly 90 AU with 1.6 times the heliocentric distance and perihelion distance of any other bound minor planet. It is the first solar system object discovered between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, and may represent a transition population between the two. The reflectance spectrum of (90377) Sedna appears largely featureless at the current signal-to-noise ratio, suggesting a surface likely to be highly processed by cosmic rays. For large grain models (100 micron to 1 cm) we find that (90377) Sedna must have less than 70% surface fraction of water ice and less than 60% surface fraction of methane ice to 3 sigma confidence. Minor planet (90482) Orcus shows strong water ice absorption corresponding to less than 50% surface fraction for grain models 25 micron and larger. Orcus cannot have more than 30% of its surface covered by large (100 mm to 1 cm) methane grains to 3 sigma confidence.
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