Bright Kuiper Belt Objects

D. Jewitt (Univ. Hawaii), J. Luu (Harvard Univ.), C. Trujillo, J. Chen (Univ. Hawaii)

Recent sky surveys have established the existence of a vast population of trans-Neptunian bodies, collectively known as Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). The cumulative sky-plane surface density of these objects reaches about 1 per sq. degree at magnitude 23. Brighter objects are comparatively rare, demanding observing strategies different from those employed in previous surveys. Accordingly, we are conducting a new wide field survey with the UH 8192x8192 pixel CCD camera that is designed to assess the abundance of bright KBOs (red magnitude <23). This survey serves two main scientific functions. First, it allows us to determine the size distribution to diameters intermediate between those of the established KBOs and Pluto. Second, it provides a sample of KBOs bright enough for detailed physical observations. Initial results of this survey will be discussed.