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Surveying the Trans-Neptunian Solar System with TESS

Presentation #304.03 in the session “Beyond the Classical Kuiper Belt”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Surveying the Trans-Neptunian Solar System with TESS

In recent years, the observed orbital geometry of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) has provided tantalizing evidence predicting the existence of an as-yet undiscovered “Planet Nine.” Combined with orbit stability models, these observations permit a detailed prediction of Planet Nine’s properties, with a shrinking parameter space as more of these rare objects are discovered. I will present the first results from a new survey utilizing light curve data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to search for TNOs at distances 70-800 au, with a magnitude limit V~22. This survey leverages an innovative new pipeline designed to extract the locations, magnitudes, and 27-day orbital arcs of undiscovered outer solar system objects, including both Planet Nine and the population of extreme trans-Neptunian objects pertinent to the Planet Nine theory, using a blind shift-stacking search along all plausible outer solar system orbits. Together with the extensive sky coverage of the TESS survey, this search will place stringent constraints upon the as-yet undiscovered TNO population, with potential survey extensions to additional high-inclination solar system populations.


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