Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 92, Issue 1–4, pp 99–112 | Cite as

The Caltech Wide Area Sky Survey

  • C. A. Trujillo
  • M. E. Brown


The first phase of the Caltech Wide Area Sky Survey occurred from lateNovember 2001 through mid-April 2003. We present preliminary resultsfrom this survey which has detected 28 bright Kuiper Belt Objects(KBOs) and 4 Centaurs, 19 of which were discovered in our surveyincluding Quaoar, the largest KBO, as well as 6 of the 10intrinsically brightest KBOs. We have surveyed 5108 square degrees ofthe sky nearest the invariable plane to a limiting red magnitude of20.7. Correcting for the overabundance of objects near the invariableplane, this represents 27% completeness in terms of KBO numbers.Thus, approximately 100 KBOs and Centaurs brighter than mR = 20.7exist, about 3/4 of which remain undiscovered. The bright KBOs areconsistent with the canonical q=4 size distribution, suggesting thatabout ten 1000 km diameter KBOs and about one 2000 km diameter KBOexist. Additionally, we observe only 3 KBOs with low inclination(i < 7 degrees) with 67% of the sky available to these objectssurveyed. This is in sharp contrast with the known KBOs, of whichabout 60% of the ∼ 800 observed objects (as of May 2003) have i< 7 degrees. Although we observe at systematically higher invariableplane latitudes than many deeper KBO surveys, such systematic biasescannot fully explain the lack of low inclination objects, ameasurement which is significant at the > 3 σ level. Thissuggests that the bright KBOs have a fundamentally different maximumsize than the fainter KBOs. A better characterization of the surveylimiting magnitude and a more thorough modeling of observational biaseffects of different classes of KBOs will be made in a future work.


Wide Area Sharp Contrast Good Characterization Kuiper Belt Kuiper Belt Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Trujillo
    • 1
  • M. E. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological and Planetary SciencesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyUSA

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