THE SHAPE DISTRIBUTION OF KUIPER BELT OBJECTS


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Abstract

If we assume that the periodic brightness variations in a Kuiper Belt lightcurve are determined only by their aspherical shapes and the observing geomtry, the fraction of detectable Kuiper Belt lightcurves and the lightcurve amplitude distribution can be used to constrain the shapes of Kuiper Belt objects. The results indicate that most Kuiper Belt objects (∼85%) have shapes that are close to spherical (a/b ≤ 1.5), but there is a small but significant fraction (∼12%) possessing highly aspherical shapes (a/b ≥ 1.7). The distribution cannot be well fitted by a gaussian and is better approximated by a power law.

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