Characterizing the Discovery of a New Trans-Neptunian Object Binary in a Trailed Point-spread Function Search

Rosemary E. Pike*, Jayatee Kanwar, Mike Alexandersen, Ying-Tung Chen, Megan E. Schwamb

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Latitude Density Search utilized the Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope to discover 60 moving objects in the outer solar system, 54 of which have semimajor axes beyond 30 au. The images were acquired in exceptional seeing (0.″4) and reached a detection limit of m r ≃ 25.2. The two night arcs were used to calculate orbits that are poorly constrained; however, the distance and inclination are the parameters best constrained by short arcs, and a reasonable determination can be made of which objects are cold classical trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) and which are dynamically excited. We identify 10 objects as likely cold classical objects. We searched all of the detections for binary sources using a trailed point-spread function (PSF) subtraction method and identified one binary object with a separation of 0.″34 and a secondary with 17% the brightness of the primary (2.0 magnitudes fainter). This is the brightest TNO in the sample, the previously known object (471165) 2010 HE79, which has a dynamically excited orbit. Because of the excellent seeing, this search was sensitive to secondaries with 0.″34 separation and a brightness of ≥50% the primary brightness for seven objects, including one cold classical. This gives an intrinsic binary fraction of 17−10+19 % (one of six) for the dynamically excited objects within our detection limits. The trailed PSF subtraction method used in the Latitude Density Search to identify binaries, fit the two components, and determine the sensitivity limits is a useful tool that could be more broadly applied to identify binary TNOs and track known binary TNO orbits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number159
JournalThe Planetary Science Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2021


  • 500
  • Planetary Science


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