A study of photometric variations on the dwarf planet (136199) Eris*
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, Apt 3004, 18008 Granada, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Departamento de Física Teórica C-XI, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Accepted: 3 December 2007
Context.Eris is the largest dwarf planet currently known in the solar system. Knowledge about its physical parameters is necessary to interpret the characteristics of these kinds of bodies.
Aims.The goal of this work is to study Eris' short-term and long-term variability in order to determine the amplitude of the lightcurve, which can be linked to the degree of elongation of the body or to the degree of albedo heterogeneity on the surface of the dwarf planet. In addition, the rotation period can be determined.
Methods.CCD photometric observations of the trans Neptunian object Eris in R band on 16 nights spanning two years were carried out using the 1.5 m telescope at Sierra Nevada Observatory (OSN), the 2.5 m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, and the 2.2 m Telescope at Calar Alto Observatory.
Results.The time-series analysis leads to indications of a short-term variability whose nature is not clear. It could be real or a result of data-reduction artifacts, such as contamination by close, faint-background stars. The most significant periodicities are 14 h or its double, but other possibilities cannot be ruled out, like a 32 h weaker peak in the periodogram. As for the amplitude of the lightcurve, we get a peak-to-peak variability of 0.01 ± 0.01 mag. The study of the long-term variability indicates that a long rotation period cannot be rejected, but the amplitude would be smaller than 0.06 mag. These results are compatible with a nearly spherical body that has a homogeneous surface.
Key words: Kuiper Belt / minor planets, asteroids / planets and satellites: individual: Eris
© ESO, 2008