Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 – 23 September 2022
Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 September – 23 September 2022
EPSC Abstracts
Vol. 16, EPSC2022-936, 2022
Europlanet Science Congress 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring Variability within the Col-OSSOS Sample

Laura Buchanan1, Megan Schwamb1, Wesley Fraser2, Michele Bannister3, Michaël Marsset4, Rosemary Pike5, JohnJ Kavelaars2,6, Susan Benecchi7, Matthew Lehner8, Shiang-Yu Wang8, Nuno Peixinho9, Kathryn Volk10, Mike Alexandersen8, Ying-Tung Chen8, Brett Gladman11, Stephen Gwyn2, and Jean-Marc Petit12
Laura Buchanan et al.
  • 1Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
  • 2National Research Council of Canada, 5071 West Saanich Rd, Victoria, BC, Canada
  • 3School of Physical and Chemical Sciences—Te Kura Matū, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
  • 4European Southern Observatory (ESO), Alonso de Cordova 3107, 1900 Casilla Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
  • 5Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian; 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA
  • 6Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria, Elliott Building, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
  • 7Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
  • 8Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica; 11F of AS/NTU Astronomy-Mathematics Building, No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd Taipei 10617, Taiwan, R.O.C
  • 9Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
  • 10Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1629 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
  • 11Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 12Institut UTINAM UMR6213, CNRS, Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comté, OSU Theta F-25000 Besançon, France

Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a sea of small icy bodies known as the Kuiper belt. The surfaces of these Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) have remained relatively unprocessed since their formation as a consequence of their distance from the Sun. This means that we can investigate their formation conditions in the early Solar System by studying their surfaces today. Generally, the small and most numerous KBOs are quite dim (r mag > 22), and so it is difficult to study their surfaces spectroscopically. Instead, we can use broadband photometry to take effectively very low-resolution spectra of their surfaces.

When studied spectroscopically, the surfaces of smaller KBOs have generally shown very flat and featureless spectra within certain wavelength ranges. This means that broadband photometry (within those wavelength ranges) can reveal enough information to characterise the optical and near-infrared spectral slopes of these planetesimals. The Colours of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (Col-OSSOS) has obtained optical and near-infrared broadband photometry of a sample of 92 KBOs, at unprecedented precision (~ ±0.03 mag in optical wavelengths). These broadband surface colours allow small, dynamically excited KBOs to be characterised into a bimodal colour distribution (as with previous colour surveys), along with the identification of potentially outlying surface colours.

As a side effect of Col-OSSOS’s observing technique we have a sample of objects with repeated optical colours, and some repeated near-infrared colours. We also have taken additional optical photometry of a small sample of KBOs with outlying surface colours. This allows us to investigate the possibility of photometric variation across multiple epochs for this sample of objects. Col-OSSOS observed sequential broadband filters on timescales less than the typical periods of small KBOs. Therefore, we can simultaneously fit a linear lightcurve and photometric colours to our photometry and potentially rule out lightcurve effects causing photometric variations. This means that differing colours across multiple epochs implies either differing surface composition, or that our approximation of linear brightness variability across the observing sequence is invalidated. We will present this sample and discuss implications for the spectrovariable population within the Kuiper belt.

How to cite: Buchanan, L., Schwamb, M., Fraser, W., Bannister, M., Marsset, M., Pike, R., Kavelaars, J., Benecchi, S., Lehner, M., Wang, S.-Y., Peixinho, N., Volk, K., Alexandersen, M., Chen, Y.-T., Gladman, B., Gwyn, S., and Petit, J.-M.: Exploring Variability within the Col-OSSOS Sample, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-936,, 2022.


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