Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Beyond the Kuiper Belt Edge

Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) - 2014 FZ7 and 2015 FJ345
Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI) & S. Sheppard, et. al.

Animation of Kuiper Belt Object 2014 FZ71 created from the discovery images. 
Each image in the sequence was taken approximately three hours apart. Image 
Credit: Scott S. Sheppard/Chad Trujillo/DECam

Two new Kuiper Belt objects, 2014 FZ71 and 2015 FJ345, are among the most distant bodies in the Solar System. They are always further than 50AU from the Sun, and only Sedna and 2012 VP113 have larger perihelia. The discovery was made using data from DECam on the Blanco 4-m telescope at CTIO.

The new trans-Neptunian objects were discovered by Scott Sheppard, Chad Trujillo, and David Tholen in their search for objects beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt (at about 50 AU). Unlike the more extreme Sedna and 2012 VP113, the new objects have moderate eccentricities. All the new moderately eccentric objects beyond the Kuiper Belt edge are near strong Neptune mean motion resonances. These new moderately eccentric objects likely obtained their unusual orbits through a combined interaction between Neptune’s mean motion resonance and the Kozai resonance. The discovery images for 2014 FZ71, shown at right, were obtained on 24 March 2014. An arrow indicates the approximate position of 2014 FZ71, which moves relative to the background stars and galaxies in this sequence of 3 images taken approximately 3 hours apart.