Article

Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 105, Issue 2, pp 209-219

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

TNOs are Cool: A Survey of the Transneptunian Region

A Herschel Open Time Key Programme
  • Thomas G. MüllerAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik Email author 
  • , Emmanuel LellouchAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
  • , Hermann BöhnhardtAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung
  • , John StansberryAffiliated withThe University of Arizona
  • , Antonella BarucciAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
  • , Jacques CrovisierAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
  • , Audrey DelsantiAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
  • , Alain DoressoundiramAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
  • , Elisabetta DottoAffiliated withOsservatorio Astronomico di Roma
    • , René DuffardAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , Sonia FornasierAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
    • , Olivier GroussinAffiliated withObservatoire Astronomique de Marseille-Provence, Pôle de l’Étoile Site de Château-Gombert
    • , Pedro J. GutiérrezAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , Olivier HainautAffiliated withESO Office Santiago
    • , Alan W. HarrisAffiliated withDeutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Berlin-Adlershof
    • , Paul HartoghAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung
    • , Daniel HestrofferAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikIMCCE/Observatoire de Paris, CNRS
    • , Jonathan HornerAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikThe Open University
    • , Dave JewittAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikInstitute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
    • , Mark KidgerAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikEuropean Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), European Space Agency (ESA)
    • , Csaba KissAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikKonkoly Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
    • , Pedro LacerdaAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikInstitute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
    • , Luisa LaraAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , Tanya LimAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikSpace Science and Technology Department, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    • , Michael MuellerAffiliated withThe University of Arizona
    • , Raphael MorenoAffiliated withObservatoire de Paris, Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)
    • , Jose-Luis OrtizAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , Miriam RengelAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung
    • , Pablo Santos-SanzAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , Bruce SwinyardAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikSpace Science and Technology Department, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    • , Nicolas ThomasAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikUniversität Bern
    • , Audrey ThirouinAffiliated withInstituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC)
    • , David TrillingAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische PhysikDepartment of Physics & Astronomy, Northern Arizona University

Abstract

Over one thousand objects have so far been discovered orbiting beyond Neptune. These trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) represent the primitive remnants of the planetesimal disk from which the planets formed and are perhaps analogous to the unseen dust parent-bodies in debris disks observed around other main-sequence stars. The dynamical and physical properties of these bodies provide unique and important constraints on formation and evolution models of the Solar System. While the dynamical architecture in this region (also known as the Kuiper Belt) is becoming relatively clear, the physical properties of the objects are still largely unexplored. In particular, fundamental parameters such as size, albedo, density and thermal properties are difficult to measure. Measurements of thermal emission, which peaks at far-IR wavelengths, offer the best means available to determine the physical properties. While Spitzer has provided some results, notably revealing a large albedo diversity in this population, the increased sensitivity of Herschel and its superior wavelength coverage should permit profound advances in the field. Within our accepted project we propose to perform radiometric measurements of 139 objects, including 25 known multiple systems. When combined with measurements of the dust population beyond Neptune (e.g. from the New Horizons mission to Pluto), our results will provide a benchmark for understanding the Solar debris disk, and extra-solar ones as well.

Keywords

Kuiper Belt Infrared: solar system Techniques: photometric