Trans–Neptunian objects' surface properties
Recent observations in visible photometry have provided B, V, R and I high quality colors for more than 130 objects. Color diversity is now a reality in the TNOs population. Relevant statistical analyses have been performed and all possible correlations between optical colors and orbital parameters have been analyzed. A taxonomy scheme based on multivariate statistical analysis of a subsample of 51 objects described by the 4 color indices (B-V, V-R, V-I and V-J) has been obtained. A tentative interpretation of the obtained groups in terms of surface characteristics is given. Moreover, an extension of this taxonomy to the other 84 objects for which only three colors indices (B-V, V-R, and V-I) are available, is also presented.
The faintness of these objects limits the spectroscopic observations. Despite this, our group provided visible and infrared spectra for 18 objects using the Very Large Telescope (ESO, Paranal, Chile). The wavelength region ranging 0.4–2.3 microns encompasses diagnostic spectral features to investigate organic compounds, minerals and ices present on the surface of the TNOs. The investigation of the surface variation can be an identifier of possible composition diversity and/or different evolution with different physical processes affecting the surface.
The current knowledge of the surface properties and composition of the population will be presented, analyzed and interpreted.
Key Words: Trans-Neptunian Objects; Colors; Photometry; Spectroscopy; Surface composition.