A physical survey of Centaurs

Bauer, James Monie
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
There are forty four known small planetary bodies with orbits that are contained within the heliocentric distances of Jupiter and Neptune. It is thought that the origin of these bodies is the Kuiper Belt, the predicted reservoir of the current short period comet population. Yet, only two bodies, Chiron and C/NEAT (2001 T4), have been shown to possess a visible coma. We've undertaken an observational survey of these bodies to obtain detailed characterization of the physical properties of the Centaurs to search for evidence of activity, and to use the physical characteristics to make inferences about primordial conditions in the outer solar nebula and evolutionary processes among different dynamical regimes in the outer nebula. We present the results of optical observations of 24 Centaurs, which yield a 3-σ correlation of color with semimajor axis, with redder Centaurs being farther from the Sun. The survey also revealed the rotation light curve period for 2 Centaurs, and the phase-darkening slope parameters, G, for 5 Centaurs which range from -0.18 to 0.13, agreeing with the steepest of main belt asteroid phase curve responses. We show spectral evidence of a variegated surface for 1999 UG5 and find the second reddest Centaur object is the active Centaur C/NEAT (2001 T4). We also present spectral evidence of crystalline water ice and ammonia species on our comparison object, the Uranian satellite Miranda.
Centaurs, Planetary, Comets, Asteroids, Kuiper belt, Astronomy, Astrophysics
Bauer, James Monie (2003) A physical survey of Centaurs. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i, United States -- Hawaii.
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