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Astron. Astrophys. 317, L35-L38 (1997)

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Letter to the Editor

Kuiper Belt searches from the Palomar 5-m telescope

Brett Gladman 1 and JJ Kavelaars 2

1 Dept. of Astronomy 1 , 406 Space Sciences Bldg., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
2 Dept. of Physics and Astronomy [FORMULA], Queen's University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6, CANADA

Received 3 September 1996 / Accepted 19 September 1996

Abstract

Motivated by a desire to understand the size distributon of the Kuiper Belt, an observing program was conducted at the Mount Palomar 5-m telescope from 1994-1996. The observations consisted of follow-up observations of known objects (in order to improve their very indeterminate orbits), and deep exposures on a single field to search for small objects below the limiting magnitudes of other surveys. Eighteen object recoveries were successfully obtained over the course of the follow-up program. Data reduction of the deep fields consisted of a software recombination of many fields shifted at different angular rates in order to detect objects at differing heliocentric distances. We set an upper limit of <1 object per 0.05 square degrees in the ecliptic brighter than magnitude [FORMULA]. The lack of detected objects in this work serves to help constrain the number density of Kuiper Belt comets.

Key words: Kuiper Belt — outer solar system — Trans-Neptunian objects

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

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