EDP Sciences
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Volume 508, Number 1, December II 2009
Page(s) 457 - 465
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912582
Published online 08 October 2009
A&A 508, 457-465 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912582

Visible spectroscopy of the new ESO large programme on trans-Neptunian objects and Centaurs: final results

S. Fornasier1, 2, M. A. Barucci1, C. de Bergh1, A. Alvarez-Candal1, 3, F. DeMeo1, F. Merlin1, 4, D. Perna1, 5, 6, A. Guilbert1, A. Delsanti1, E. Dotto6, and A. Doressoundiram1

1  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, 5 Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon Pricipal Cedex, France
    e-mail: sonia.fornasier@obspm.fr
2  Université de Paris 7 , 4 rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris, France
3  European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago, Chile
4  Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
5  Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy
6  INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via Frascati 33, 00040 Monteporzio Catone Roma, Italy

Received 27 May 2009 / Accepted 26 August 2009

Context. A second large programme (LP) for the physical studies of TNOs and Centaurs, started at ESO Cerro Paranal on October 2006 to obtain high-quality data, has recently been concluded. In this paper we present the spectra of these pristine bodies obtained in the visible range during the last two semesters (November 2007-November 2008) of the LP.
Aims. We investigate the spectral behaviour of the TNOs and Centaurs observed, and we analyse the spectral slopes distribution of the full data set coming from this LP and from the literature.
Methods. Spectroscopic observations in the visible range were carried out at the UT1 (Antu) telescope using the instrument FORS2. We computed the spectral slope for each observed object, and searched for possible weak absorption features. A statistical analysis was performed on a total sample of 73 TNOs and Centaurs to look for possible correlations between dynamical classes, orbital parameters, and spectral gradient.
Results. We obtained new spectra for 28 bodies (10 Centaurs, 6 classical, 5 resonant, 5 scattered disk, and 2 detached objects), 15 of which were observed for the first time. All the new presented spectra are featureless, including 2003 AZ84, for which a faint and broad absorption band possibly attributed to hydrated silicates on its surface has been reported. The data confirm a wide variety of spectral behaviours, with neutral-grey to very red gradients. An analysis of the spectral slopes available from this LP and in the literature for a total sample of 73 Centaurs and TNOs shows that there is a lack of very red objects in the classical population. We present the results of the statistical analysis of the spectral slope distribution versus orbital parameters. In particular, we confirm a strong anticorrelation between spectral slope and orbital inclination for the classical population. Nevertheless, we do not observe a change in the slope distribution at $i \sim 5^{\circ}$, the boundary between the dynamically hot and cold populations, but we find that objects with $ i < 12^{\circ}$ show no correlation between spectral slope and inclination, as has already been noticed on the colour-inclination relation for classical TNOs. A strong correlation is also found between the spectral slope and orbital eccentricity for resonant TNOs, with objects having higher spectral slope values with increasing eccentricity.

Key words: methods: observational -- methods: statistical -- techniques: spectroscopic -- Kuiper Belt

© ESO 2009

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