The surface characterization of Trans-Neptunian binaries (TNBs) is key to understanding the properties of the disk of planetesimals from which these objects formed. In the optical wavelengths, it has been demonstrated that most equal-sized component systems share similar colors, suggesting they have a similar composition. The color homogeneity of binary pairs contrasts with the overall diversity of colors in the Kuiper Belt, which was interpreted as evidence that Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) formed from a locally homogeneous and globally heterogeneous protoplanetary disk. In this paradigm, binary pairs must have formed early, before the dynamically hot TNOs were scattered out from their formation location. The latter inferences, however, relied on the assumption that the matching colors of the binary components imply matching composition. Here, we test this assumption by examining the component-resolved photometry of three TNBs found in the Outer Solar System Origins Survey: 505447 (2013 SQ99), 511551 (2014 UD225), and 506121 (2016 BP81), across the visible and J-band near-infrared wavelength range. We report similar colors within 2σ for the binary pairs, which is suggestive of similar reflectance spectra and hence surface composition. This advocates for gravitational collapse of pebble clouds as a possible TNO formation route. However, we stress that several similarly small TNOs, including at least one binary, have been shown to exhibit substantial spectral variability in the near-infrared, implying color equality of binary pairs is likely to be violated in some cases.
The Planetary Science Journal
- Pub Date:
- June 2020
- Trans-Neptunian objects;
- Broad band photometry;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 10 pages, 4 figures, accepted to The Planetary Science Journal