NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0475

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0475


PI: Michael Brown, Caltech (Geo. and Planetary), mbrown@caltech.edu
Address: Division of Geological and Planetary Science, MS 170-25, Pasadena, CA, 91125, USA

CoI: Megan Schwamb, Caltech (Geo. and Planetary)

Title: Sedna and the Birth of the Solar System

Abstract: The distant solar system object Sedna exists in a region far beyond the Kuiper belt and must have been emplaced in its orbit at an earlier time when massive unknown bodies were present in or near the solar system. Studying this unexplored population of primordial bodies beyond the Kuiper belt provides a unique opportunity to study the creation and evolution of the early solar system. The orbits of these distant Sedna-like bodies are dynamically frozen and serve as a fossilized record of their formation. In order to find additional members of this distant population, we have performed a deep sky survey with Suprime-Cam on the 8.2-m Subaru telescope. One year astrometric recovery observations are critical to this survey as these observations are the only way to disentangle which of the distant bodies we discover are Sednas-like bodies on high perihelion orbits rather than typical Kuiper belt objects scattered by Neptune. We propose dedicated one year astrometric follow-up observations of potential Sedna-like detections found in our survey. These observations are ideal for queue-based observing with Gemini. Completion of our survey with secure orbits of all potential Sedna-like bodies will allow us to make the first progress towards exploration of this newly discovered and critically important population in the outer solar system.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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