Properties of the trans-Neptunian Belt: Statistics from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope survey

Chadwick A. Trujillo, David C. Jewitt, Jane X. Luu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


We present the results of a wide-field survey designed to measure the size, inclination, and radial distributions of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs). The survey found 86 KBOs in 73 deg2 observed to limiting red magnitude of 23.7 using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the 12K × 8K CCD mosaic camera. For the first time, both ecliptic and off-ecliptic fields were examined to more accurately constrain the inclination distribution of the KBOs. The survey data were processed using an automatic moving-object detection algorithm, allowing a careful characterization of the biases involved. In this work, we quantify fundamental parameters of the classical KBOs (CKBOs), the most numerous objects found in our sample, using the new data and a maximum likelihood simulation. Deriving results from our best-fit model, we find that the size distribution follows a differential power law with exponent q = 4.0+0.6-0.5 (1 σ, or 68.27% confidence). In addition, the CKBOs inhabit a very thick disk consistent with a Gaussian distribution of inclinations with a half-width of i1/2 = 20+6-4 deg (1 σ). We estimate that there are NCKBO(D > 100 km) = 3.8+2.0-1.5 × 104 (1 σ) CKBOs larger than 100 km in diameter. We also find compelling evidence for an outer edge to the CKBOs at heliocentric distances R = 50 AU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-473
Number of pages17
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Kuiper belt
  • Minor planets, asteroids
  • Solar system: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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