NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013B-0453

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Proposal Information for 2013B-0453


PI: Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Institution of Washington, sheppard@dtm.ciw.edu
Address: Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, 5241 Broad Branch Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20015, USA

CoI: Chad Trujillo, Gemini Observatory

Title: Beyond the Kuiper Belt Edge

Abstract: Of the thousands of known objects beyond Neptune, only one has a perihelion significantly beyond 50 AU, Sedna at 76 AU. Kuiper Belt surveys to date have not been optimized to survey beyond the Kuiper Belt edge at 50 AU. Most of these surveys either did not go faint enough, did not have the required long cadence to detect very slow moving objects, or covered too small of an area of sky. The dynamical and physical properties of objects in this region offer key constraints on the formation and evolution of our solar system. In order to probe the Sedna-like population of objects with moderate radii (100 km) we propose a medium wide-field outer solar system survey. This survey will allow us to determine if the objects beyond 50 AU are fainter than expected, if there is truly a dearth of objects, or if the Kuiper Belt continues again after some sizable gap possibly caused by a planet sized object. We will be able to examine the origin of Sedna and determine if this eccentric, distant body is unique (as once believed for Pluto) or just the first of a new class of objects in the outer Solar System.


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