Aims: We seek to constrain the surface composition of thetrans-Neptunian object (90482) Orcus and its small satellite Vanth, as well as their mass and density. Methods: We acquired near-infrared spectra (1.4-2.4 μm) of (90482) Orcus and its companion Vanth using the adaptive-optics-fed integral-field spectrograph SINFONI mounted on Yepun/UT4 at the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope. We took advantage of a very favorable appulse (separation ofonly 4″) between Orcus and the UCAC2 29643541 star (mR= 11.6) to use the adaptive optics mode of SINFONI, allowing both components to be spatially resolved and Vanth colors to be extracted independently from Orcus. Results: The spectrum of Orcus we obtain has the highest signal-to-noise ratio to date, and we confirm the presence of H2O ice in crystalline form, together with the presence of an absorption band at 2.2 μm. We set an upper limit of about 2% to the presence of methane, and 5% for ethane. Since the methane alone cannot account for the 2.2 μm band, the presence of ammonia is suggested to the level of a couple of percent. The colors of Vanth are found to be slightly redder than those of Orcus, but the large measurement uncertainties prevent us from drawing any firm conclusions about the origin of the pair (capture or co-formation). Finally, were set the orbital phase of Vanth around Orcus, and confirm the orbital parameters derived by Brown and collaborators. Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope (programs ID: 284.C-5044 and 384.C-0877).
- techniques: high angular resolution
- techniques: imaging spectroscopy
- Kuiper belt objects: individual: (90482) Orcus
- methods: observational