The Albedo-Color Diversity of Transneptunian Objects

Pedro Lacerda, Sonia Fornasier, Emmanuel Lellouch, Csaba Kiss, Esa Vilenius, Pablo Santos-Sanz, Miriam Rengel, Thomas Müller, John Stansberry, René Duffard, Audrey Delsanti, Aurélie Guilbert-Lepoutre

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We analyze albedo data obtained using the Herschel Space Observatory that reveal the existence of two distinct types of surface among midsized trans-Neptunian objects. A color-albedo diagram shows two large clusters of objects, one redder and higher albedo and another darker and more neutrally colored. Crucially, all objects in our sample located in dynamically stable orbits within the classical Kuiper Belt region and beyond are confined to the bright red group, implying a compositional link. Those objects are believed to have formed further from the Sun than the dark neutral bodies. This color-albedo separation is evidence for a compositional discontinuity in the young solar system.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Kuiper belt: general

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