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J/AJ/154/62        Orbital parameters of Kuiper Belt objects       (Volk+, 2017)

The curiously warped mean plane of the Kuiper Belt. Volk K., Malhotra R. <Astron. J., 154, 62-62 (2017)> =2017AJ....154...62V (SIMBAD/NED BibCode)
ADC_Keywords: Solar system ; Minor planets Keywords: celestial mechanics - Kuiper belt: general Abstract: We measured the mean plane of the Kuiper Belt as a function of semimajor axis. For the classical Kuiper Belt as a whole (the nonresonant objects in the semimajor axis range 42-48au), we find a mean plane of inclination im=1.8°-0.4°+0.7° and longitude of ascending node Ωm=77°-14°+18° (in the J2000 ecliptic-equinox coordinate system), in accord with theoretical expectations of the secular effects of the known planets. With finer semimajor axis bins, we detect a statistically significant warp in the mean plane near semimajor axes 40-42au. Linear secular theory predicts a warp near this location due to the ν18 nodal secular resonance; however, the measured mean plane for the 40.3-42au semimajor axis bin (just outside the ν18) is inclined ∼13° to the predicted plane, a nearly 3σ discrepancy. For the more distant Kuiper Belt objects of semimajor axes in the range 50-80au, the expected mean plane is close to the invariable plane of the solar system, but the measured mean plane deviates greatly from this: it has inclination im=9.1°-3.8°+6.6° and longitude of ascending node Ωm=227°-44°+18°. We estimate this deviation from the expected mean plane to be statistically significant at the ∼97%-99% confidence level. We discuss several possible explanations for this deviation, including the possibility that a relatively close-in (a≲100au), unseen, small planetary-mass object in the outer solar system is responsible for the warping. Description: Our starting point is the list of minor planets in the outer solar system cataloged in the database of the Minor Planet Center ( and as of 2016 October 20. The complete listing of our sample, including best-fit orbital parameters and sky locations, is provided in Table1. File Summary:
FileName Lrecl Records Explanations
ReadMe 80 . This file table1.dat 108 906 List objects used to calculate mean planes
See also: B/astorb : Orbits of Minor Planets (Bowell+ 2014) : Minor Planet Center Byte-by-byte Description of file: table1.dat
Bytes Format Units Label Explanations
1- 7 A7 --- MPC Minor Planet Center designation (1) 9- 19 E11.5 AU a [36.3/149.85] Best-fit barycentric semi-major axis (2) 21- 29 E9.3 AU e_a [0.0005/4.14] The 1-σ uncertainty in a (da) (3) 31- 41 E11.5 --- e [0.0018/0.76] Best-fit eccentricity (2) 43- 53 E11.5 rad i [0.0018/0.88] Best-fit inclination (2) 55- 65 E11.5 rad Omega [0.0022/6.28] Best-fit longitude of ascending node (Ω) (2) 67- 77 E11.5 rad omega [0.0014/6.27] Best-fit argument of perihelion (ω) (2) 79- 84 F6.3 rad lambda [-3.14/3.14] Ecliptic longitude (λ) (2) 86- 91 F6.3 rad beta [-0.844/0.805] Ecliptic latitude (β) (2) 93- 98 F6.3 AU Dist [31.544/96.255] Heliocentric distance (rh) 100-108 F9.1 d Epoch Epoch of the orbit fit and sky position (in Julian Date)
Note (1): The MPC designations are given in their packed format (see Note (2): The orbital elements are the best-fit barycentric elements from a Bernstein & Khushalani (2000AJ....120.3323B) orbit fit to the astrometry available for each object from the Minor Planet Center (MPC). All elements are referenced to the J2000 ecliptic coordinate system. Note (3): Taken from the orbit-fit covariance matrix.
History: From electronic version of the journal
(End) Prepared by [AAS]; Sylvain Guehenneux [CDS] 07-Nov-2017
The document above follows the rules of the Standard Description for Astronomical Catalogues.From this documentation it is possible to generate f77 program to load files into arrays or line by line

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