HAWAII KUIPER BELT VARIABILITY PROJECT: AN UPDATE


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Abstract

We have been systematically monitoring a large sample of bright Kuiper Belt objects for possible light variations due to rotational and phase angle effects. Here we report on three objects, 2003 AZ84, (24835) 1995 SM55 and (55636) 2002 TX300 observed to have measurable rotational lightcurves with peak-to-peak amplitudes of 0.14 ± 0.03, 0.19 ± 0.05 and 0.08 ± 0.02 magnitudes and single-peaked periods of 6.71 ± 0.05, 4.04 ± 0.03 and 8.12 ± 0.08 hours, respectively. We observed a further ten objects which showed no rotational photometric variation within measurement uncertainties. In addition, we find that the lightcurve of 1995 SM55 may have a variable amplitude. We discuss this peculiar object as well as our observations of the reportedly variable Kuiper Belt object (19308) 1996 TO66. Finally, we continue to find the phase functions of the Kuiper Belt objects to be very steep and linear, to first order, with a median slope of 0.16 ± 0.01 magnitudes per degree in the phase angle range 0 to 2 degrees.

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