We present a catalog of 316 trans-Neptunian bodies (TNOs) detected from the first four seasons ("Y4" data) of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). The survey covers a contiguous 5000 deg2 of the southern sky in the grizY optical/NIR filter set, with a typical TNO in this part of the sky being targeted by 25-30 Y4 exposures. This paper focuses on the methods used to detect these objects from the ≈60,000 Y4 exposures, a process made challenging by the absence of the few-hour repeat observations employed by TNO-optimized surveys. Newly developed techniques include: transient/moving object detection by comparison of single-epoch catalogs to catalogs of "stacked" images; quantified astrometric error from atmospheric turbulence; new software for detecting TNO linkages in a temporally sparse transient catalog, and for estimating the rate of spurious linkages; use of faint stars to determine the detection efficiency versus magnitude in all exposures. Final validation of the reality of linked orbits uses a new "sub-threshold confirmation" test, wherein we demand the object be detectable in a stack of the exposures in which the orbit indicates an object should be present, but was not individually detected. This catalog contains all validated TNOs which were detected on ≥6 unique nights in the Y4 data, and is complete to r ≲ 23.3 mag with virtually no dependence on orbital properties for bound TNOs at distance 30 au < d < 2500 au. The catalog includes 245 discoveries by DES, 139 not previously published. The final DES TNO catalog is expected to yield >0.3 mag more depth, and arcs of >4 yr for nearly all detections.
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
- Pub Date:
- March 2020
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 33 pages, accepted to ApJS, table of objects found in the ancillary files