We have measured the solar phase curves in B, V, and 1 for 18 trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), 7 Centaurs, and Nereid and determined the rotation curves for 10 of these targets. For each body we have made ∼100 observations uniformly spread over the entire visible range. We find that all the targets except Nereid have linear phase curves at small phase angles (0.1°-2.0°) with widely varying phase coefficients (0.0-0.4 mag deg0-1). At phase angles of 2°-3°, the Centaurs (54598) Bienor and (32532) Thereus have phase curves that flatten. The recently discovered Pluto-scale bodies (2005 FY9, 2003 EL61, and 2003 UB313 - now known as 136199 Eris), like Pluto, have neutral colors compared to most TNOs and small phase coefficients (≳0.1 mag deg-1). Together, these two properties are a likely indication of large TNOs with high-albedo, freshly coated icy surfaces. We find several bodies with significantly wavelength-dependent phase curves. The TNOs (50000) Quaoar, (120348) 2004 TY364, and (47932) 2000 GN171 have unusually high I-band phase coefficients and much lower coefficients in the B and V bands. Their phase coefficients increase in proportion to wavelength by 0.5-0.8 mag deg-1 μm-1. The phase curves for TNOs with small B-band phase coefficients (<0.1 mag deg-1) have a similar but weaker wavelength dependence. Coherent backscatter is the likely cause for the wavelength dependence for all these bodies. We see no such dependence for the Centaurs, which have visual albedos of ∼0.05. © 2007. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Rabinowitz, D., Schaefer, B., & Tourtellotte, S. (2007). The diverse solar phase curves of distant icy bodies. I. Photometric observations of 18 trans-Neptunian objects, 7 Centaurs, and Nereid. Astronomical Journal, 133 (1), 26-43. https://doi.org/10.1086/508931