Deep Imaging of the Kuiper Belt with the Keck 10-meter Telescope

Jane Luu and David Jewitt

Ap. J. Letters, 1998, 502, L91-94.

We present a new, pencil-beam survey of the Kuiper Belt taken with the Keck 10-meter telescope. The cumulative surface density of Kuiper Belt Objects measured to apparent red magnitude m = 26.1 is 31(+12,-14) per sq. deg., while to m = 26.6 it is 40 +/- 33 per sq. deg. These numbers are compatible with an extrapolation of the luminosity function deduced earlier from measurements in the 20 < m < 25 range (Jewitt, Luu and Trujillo 1998), and confirm a Kuiper Belt power law size distribution index q ~ 4.

In a Nutshell
The Kuiper Belt cumulative luminosity function (CLF) reflects both the distance and the size distributions of the Kuiper Belt Objects. Measurements of the CLF can be used to constrain both quantities. We used Keck to survey the Kuiper Belt to faint limiting magnitudes, and find complete consistency with our earlier results from smaller telescopes. We find no evidence for the very high surface densities reported from Hubble Space Telescope observations, and we discuss possible interpretations of these observations.

paper itself (Postscript)

Last updated May 16 1998

Kuiper Belt