A southern sky and galactic plane survey for bright Kuiper Belt Objects

Scott S. Sheppard, Andrzej Udalski, Chadwick Trujillo, Marcin Kubiak, Grzegorz Pietrzynski, Radoslaw Poleski, Igor Soszynski, Michal K. Szymański, Krzysztof Ulaczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


About 2500deg2 of sky south of declination -25° and/or near the Galactic Plane were surveyed for bright outer solar system objects. This survey is one of the first large-scale southern sky and Galactic Plane surveys to detect dwarf planets and other bright Kuiper Belt Objects in the trans-Neptunian region. The survey was able to obtain a limiting R-band magnitude of 21.6. In all, 18 outer solar system objects were detected, including Pluto which was detected near the Galactic center using optimal image subtraction techniques to remove the high stellar density background. Fourteen of the detections were previously unknown trans-Neptunian objects, demonstrating that the southern sky had not been well searched to date for bright outer solar system objects. Assuming moderate albedos, several of the new discoveries from this survey could be in hydrostatic equilibrium and thus could be considered dwarf planets. Combining this survey with previous surveys from the northern hemisphere suggests that the Kuiper Belt is nearly complete to around 21st magnitude in the R band. All the main dynamical classes in the Kuiper Belt are occupied by at least one dwarf-planet-sized object. The 3:2 Neptune resonance, which is the innermost well-populated Neptune resonance, has several large objects while the main outer Neptune resonances such as the 5:3, 7:4, 2:1, and 5:2 do not appear to have any large objects. This indicates that the outer resonances are either significantly depleted in objects relative to the 3:2 resonance or have a significantly different assortment of objects than the 3:2 resonance. For the largest objects (H < 4.5mag), the scattered disk population appears to have a few times more objects than the main Kuiper Belt (MKB) population, while the Sedna population could be several times more than that of the MKB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Kuiper Belt Objects: individual (Sedna, Eris, Pluto)
  • Kuiper Belt: general
  • Oort Cloud
  • minor planets, asteroids: General

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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