A correlation between inclination and color in the classical Kuiper belt

Chadwick A. Trujillo, Michael E. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


We have measured broadband optical BVR photometry of 24 classical and scattered Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), approximately doubling the published sample of colors for these classes of objects. We find a statistically significant correlation between object color and inclination in the classical Kuiper belt using our data. The color and inclination correlation increases in significance after the inclusion of additional data points culled from all published works. Apparently, this color and inclination correlation has not been more widely reported because the Plutinos show no such correlation and thus have been a major contaminant in previous samples. The color and inclination correlation excludes simple origins of color diversity, such as the presence of a coloring agent without regard to dynamical effects. Unfortunately, our current knowledge of the Kuiper belt precludes us from understanding whether the color and inclination trend is due to environmental factors, such as collisional resurfacing, or primordial population effects. A perihelion and color correlation is also evident, although this appears to be a spurious correlation induced by sampling bias, as perihelion and inclination are correlated in the observed sample of KBOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L125-L128
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Feb 20 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Comets: general
  • Kuiper Belt
  • Oort Cloud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A correlation between inclination and color in the classical Kuiper belt'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this