Direct measurement of the size of the large Kuiper belt object (50000) Quaoar

Michael E. Brown, Chadwick A. Trujillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

We imaged the recently discovered bright Kuiper belt object (50000) Quaoar with the Hubble Space Telescope High Resolution Camera to directly determine its size. The point-spread function (PSF) of each of 16 images was carefully measured from a field star 13″ from Quaoar, and the expected PSF at the location of Quaoar was convolved with Quaoar's motion vector and a model resolved disk. A least-squares analysis was performed to find the best-fit disk size. The apparent diameter of Quaoar was resolved as 40.4 ± 1.8 milliarcseconds. Accounting for the uncertainty due to an unknown limb-darkening function, the size of Quaoar is 1260 ± 190 km with red and blue albedos of 0.092-0.023+0.036 and 0.101 -0.024+0.039, respectively. These albedos are significantly higher than the canonically assumed value of 4%. Quaoar is the largest currently known minor planet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2413-2417
Number of pages5
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume127
Issue number4 1780
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Minor planets, asteroids
  • Techniques: image processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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