The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 Test of Surfaces in the Outer Solar System: Spectral Variation on Kuiper Belt Objects

Wesley C. Fraser, Michael E. Brown, Florian Glass

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Abstract

Here, we present additional photometry of targets observed as part of the Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) Test of Surfaces in the Outer Solar System. Twelve targets were re-observed with the WFC3 in the optical and NIR wavebands designed to complement those used during the first visit. Additionally, all of the observations originally presented by Fraser and Brown were reanalyzed through the same updated photometry pipeline. A re-analysis of the optical and NIR color distribution reveals a bifurcated optical color distribution and only two identifiable spectral classes, each of which occupies a broad range of colors and has correlated optical and NIR colors, in agreement with our previous findings. We report the detection of significant spectral variations on five targets which cannot be attributed to photometry errors, cosmic rays, point-spread function or sensitivity variations, or other image artifacts capable of explaining the magnitude of the variation. The spectrally variable objects are found to have a broad range of dynamical classes and absolute magnitudes, exhibit a broad range of apparent magnitude variations, and are found in both compositional classes. The spectrally variable objects with sufficiently accurate colors for spectral classification maintain their membership, belonging to the same class at both epochs. 2005 TV189 exhibits a sufficiently broad difference in color at the two epochs that span the full range of colors of the neutral class. This strongly argues that the neutral class is one single class with a broad range of colors, rather than the combination of multiple overlapping classes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Number of pages11
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume804
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Kuiper belt: general
  • planets and satellites: composition
  • techniques: photometric

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