NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0473

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0473


PI: Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Institution of Washington (Terrestrial Magn.), sheppard@dtm.ciw.edu
Address: Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, 5241 Broad Branch Road, Washington, DC 20015-1305, USA

CoI: Chad Trujillo, Gemini Observatory - North

Title: The First Known Equal Sized Plutino Binary

Abstract: We have discovered the first equal sized binary Kuiper Belt object in the 3:2 resonance with Neptune. The four other binary objects known in the 3:2 resonance (including Pluto) have secondaries that are significantly smaller and closer to the primary. Our newly discovered equal sized binary indicates a different binary formation mechanism operating within the 3:2 resonance population. Equal sized binaries are common in the more distant classical part of the Kuiper Belt and are believed to have formed through some sort of collisionless interactions within a much denser Kuiper Belt. Most of these other known equal sized binary objects can not be efficiently resolved with ground based telescopes because of their small separations. We request Gemini time to monitor this new bright equal sized binary in order to determine the period and eccentricity of the binary components. Understanding the orbit of the components will allow us to estimate the bulk density and binary formation mechanism. These results will give us insights into the collisional history and evolution of the 3:2 resonance population.


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