NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2001A-0311

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Proposal Information for 2001A-0311


PI: R. Lynne Allen, University of Michigan, rhiannon@umich.edu
Address: 1022 Dennison Building, 830 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1090, USA

CoI: Gary Bernstein, University of Michigan
CoI: Renu Malhotra, Lunar and Planetary Insitute

Title: Distant Kuiper Belt Objects

Abstract: Kuiper Belt Object surveys indicate a lack of objects with semi- major axis \it a\ga50 AU in low eccentricity, low inclination orbits. This presents a problem for the simplest theories of Kuiper Belt evolution, which predict a dense, primordial outer Kuiper Belt. A possible solution is that the outer Belt is very dynamically cold, appearing as a razor-thin plane on the sky. If this disk was inclined only 0.5\deg from the ecliptic, present surveys could fail to detect it since the deep surveys (limiting magnitude R~26) lack sufficient sky coverage and the shallow surveys (limiting mag R~24.4) lack sufficient depth to see small (radius \la130 km) objects beyond 50 AU. If this cold, dense disk were to cross a Mosaic field with a limiting magnitude R=25.8, we would expect to see at least 15 distant KBOs. By observing strategically placed large fields we could detect any cold, dense distant disk inclined at up to 0.7\deg from the invariable plane. This would place a strong constraint on the location of a cold, dense outer Kuiper Belt.


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