Low phase angle effects in photometry of trans-neptunian objects: 20000 Varuna and 19308 (1996 TO 66)
We present the results of photometric observations of trans-neptunian object 20000 Varuna, which were obtained during 7 nights in November 2004-February 2005. The analysis of new and available photometric observations of Varuna reveals a pronounced opposition surge at phase angles less than 0.1 deg with amplitude of 0.2 mag relatively to the extrapolation of the linear part of magnitude-phase dependence to zero phase angle. The opposition surge of Varuna is markedly different from that of dark asteroids while quite typical for moderate albedo Solar System bodies. We find an indication of variations of the scattering properties over Varuna's surface that could result in an increase of the lightcurve amplitude toward zero phase angle. It is shown that a similar phase effect can be responsible for lightcurve changes found for TNO 19308 (1996 TO 66) in 1997-1999.