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Journal Article

“TNOs are Cool”: A survey of the trans-Neptunian region XIII. Statistical analysis of multiple trans-Neptunian objects observed with Herschel Space Observatory


Vilenius,  Esa
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Kovalenko, I. D., Doressoundiram, A., Lellouch, E., Vilenius, E., Müller, T., & Stansberry, J. (2017). “TNOs are Cool”: A survey of the trans-Neptunian region XIII. Statistical analysis of multiple trans-Neptunian objects observed with Herschel Space Observatory. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 608: A19. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201730588.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-41B6-8
Context. Gravitationally bound multiple systems provide an opportunity to estimate the mean bulk density of the objects, whereas this characteristic is not available for single objects. Being a primitive population of the outer solar system, binary and multiple trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) provide unique information about bulk density and internal structure, improving our understanding of their formation and evolution. Aims. The goal of this work is to analyse parameters of multiple trans-Neptunian systems, observed with Herschel and Spitzer space telescopes. Particularly, statistical analysis is done for radiometric size and geometric albedo, obtained from photometric observations, and for estimated bulk density. Methods. We use Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the real size distribution of TNOs. For this purpose, we expand the dataset of diameters by adopting the Minor Planet Center database list with available values of the absolute magnitude therein, and the albedo distribution derived from Herschel radiometric measurements. We use the 2-sample Anderson–Darling non-parametric statistical method for testing whether two samples of diameters, for binary and single TNOs, come from the same distribution. Additionally, we use the Spearman’s coefficient as a measure of rank correlations between parameters. Uncertainties of estimated parameters together with lack of data are taken into account. Conclusions about correlations between parameters are based on statistical hypothesis testing. Results. We have found that the difference in size distributions of multiple and single TNOs is biased by small objects. The test on correlations between parameters shows that the effective diameter of binary TNOs strongly correlates with heliocentric orbital inclination and with magnitude difference between components of binary system. The correlation between diameter and magnitude difference implies that small and large binaries are formed by different mechanisms. Furthermore, the statistical test indicates, although not significant with the sample size, that a moderately strong correlation exists between diameter and bulk density.