Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía,
CSIC, Apt 3004,
Accepted: 5 March 2010
Aims. We attempt to increase the number of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) whose short-term variability has been studied and compile a high quality database with the least possible biases, which may be used to perform statistical analyses.
Methods. We performed broadband CCD photometric observations using several telescopes (the 1.5 m telescope at Sierra Nevada Observatory, the 2.2 m Calar Alto telescope and the 2.5 m INT on La Palma).
Results. We present the results of 6 years of observations, reduced and analyzed with the same tools in a systematic way. We report completely new data on 15 objects, for 5 objects we present a new analysis of previously published results plus additional data and for 9 objects we present a new analysis of data already published. Lightcurves, possible rotation periods, and photometric amplitudes are reported for all of them. The photometric variability is smaller than previously thought: the mean amplitude of our sample is 0.1 mag and only around 15% of our sample has a larger variability than 0.15 mag. The smaller variability seems to be caused by a bias of previous observations. We find a very weak trend of faster spinning objects towards smaller sizes, which appears to be consistent with the smaller objects being more collisionally evolved, but may also be a specific feature of the Centaurs, the smallest objects in our sample. We also find that the smaller the objects, the larger their amplitude, which is also consistent with the idea that small objects are more collisionally evolved and thus more deformed. Average rotation rates from our work are 7.5 h for the whole sample, 7.6 h for the TNOs alone and 7.3 h for the Centaurs. Maxwellian fits to the period distribution yield similar results.
Key words: Kuiper belt: general / techniques: photometric
Table 1 and Appendix are only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
Table 3 is available in electronic form in the Center of astronomical Data of Strasbourg cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (126.96.36.199) or via http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/522/A93 and is available in the link http://www.iaa.es/~ortiz/thirouinetal2010/supportingonlinematerial.pdf
© ESO, 2010