The Sizes of Kuiper Belt Objects
Queen’s University, Belfast BT7 1NN, United Kingdom
2 Newton Fellow
One of the most fundamental problems in the study of Kuiper belt ob jects (KBOs) is to know their true physical size. Without knowledge of their albedos we are not able to distinguish large and dark from small and bright KBOs. Spitzer produced rough estimates of the sizes and albedos of about 20 KBOs, and the Herschel space telescope will improve on those initial measurements by extending the sample to the ~150 brightest KBOs. SPICA’s higher sensitivity instruments should allow us not only to broaden the sample to smaller KBOs but also to achieve a statistically signiﬁcant sample of KBO thermal light curves (Herschel will measure only six ob jects). A large sample covering a broad range of sizes will be key to identify meaningful correlations between size and other physical and surface properties that constrain the processes of formation and evolution of the solar system.
Key words: Solar system: formation / Kuiper belt ob jects: physical properties / Missions: SPICA
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2009