Discovery of a New Retrograde Trans-Neptunian Object: Hint of a Common Orbital Plane for Low Semimajor Axis, High-inclination TNOs and Centaurs

Ying-Tung Chen, Hsing Wen Lin, Matthew J. Holman, Matthew J. Payne, Wesley C. Fraser, Pedro Lacerda, Wing-Huen Ip, Wen-Ping Chen, Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, Robert Jedicke, Richard J. Wainscoat, John L. Tonry, Eugene A. Magnier, Christopher Waters, Nick Kaiser, Shiang-Yu Wang, Matthew Lehner

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35 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Although the majority of Centaurs are thought to have originated in the scattered disk, with the high-inclination members coming from the Oort cloud, the origin of the high-inclination component of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) remains uncertain. We report the discovery of a retrograde TNO, which we nickname “Niku,” detected by the Pan-STARRS 1 Outer Solar System Survey. Our numerical integrations show that the orbital dynamics of Niku are very similar to that of 2008 KV42 (Drac), with a half-life of ˜500 Myr. Comparing similar high-inclination TNOs and Centaurs (q > 10 au, a <100 au, and i > 60°), we find that these objects exhibit a surprising clustering of ascending node, and occupy a common orbital plane. This orbital configuration has high statistical significance: 3.8-σ. An unknown mechanism is required to explain the observed clustering. This discovery may provide a pathway to investigating a possible reservoir of high-inclination objects.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume827
Issue number2
Early online date12 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Kuiper belt: general
  • Oort Cloud
  • surveys

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