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Spectroscopy of partially resolved TNO binaries from the DiSCo-TNOs program

Presentation #219.07 in the session TNO (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Spectroscopy of partially resolved TNO binaries from the DiSCo-TNOs program

Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), and specifically TNO binaries, are key to understanding the formation mechanisms and dynamical evolution of planetary building blocks. Giant impacts caused by the orbital destabilization of the original planetesimal disk and co-formation via the streaming instability have been put forward to explain the two different categories of TNO binaries. These different mechanisms should also result in characteristic binary properties: giant impacts could produce components with different surface compositions and colors, while the streaming instability resulted in homogeneous components. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), with its diffraction-limited seeing, stable point-spread function, and unrivaled sensitivity, is capable of fully or partially separating the components of TNO binaries. Combined with the imaging spectroscopy provided by the NIRSpec Integral Field Unit (IFU), spectra of the individual components of TNO binaries can be obtained for the first time. The Large Cycle 1 JWST General Observer (GO) program “Discovering the Surface Compositions of TNOs” (DiSCo-TNOs; PI: Pinilla-Alonso) includes spectroscopic observations of 12 binary objects, 11 of which are only partially resolved. These objects span a wide range of dynamical classes (3:2 resonant, cold & hot classical, scattered disk, and detached), estimated diameter of the primary (~100-700 km), and component separations (~200-21,000 km). We compare spectra of the individual components extracted using PSF-fitting and comment on the origins of the various systems.

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