The Kuiper Belt and Olbers's paradox

Scott J. Kenyon, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigate the constraints that Olbers's paradox, applied to the zodiacal background as measured from space, sets on outer solar system objects. If extended to very faint limits, R ∼ 40-50 mag, the steep optical number counts of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) at R ≲ 26 imply an infinitely bright night sky. Small KBOs with radii of r ∼ 1 μm to r ∼ 1 km must have a size distribution n(r) ∝ r-a, with a ∼ 3.4 or smaller to satisfy the known limits on the sky-surface brightness at optical and far-infrared wavelengths. Improved limits on the measured KBO surface brightness can yield direct estimates of the albedo, temperature, and size distribution for small KBOs in the outer solar system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume547
Issue number1 PART 2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2001

Fingerprint

Kuiper belt
paradoxes
solar system
brightness
night sky
albedo
sky
temperature distribution
wavelength
radii
estimates
wavelengths
temperature

Keywords

  • Kuiper Belt
  • Solar system: Formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

The Kuiper Belt and Olbers's paradox. / Kenyon, Scott J.; Windhorst, Rogier.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 547, No. 1 PART 2, 20.01.2001.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kenyon, Scott J. ; Windhorst, Rogier. / The Kuiper Belt and Olbers's paradox. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2001 ; Vol. 547, No. 1 PART 2.
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