Revealing Compositional Diversity and Ice Dynamics in Trans-Neptunian Objects: Insights from the DiSCo-TNOs Program with JWST
Session 1.05 Spectroscopy
Monday 06-24 | 10:30 - 10:50

The outer realms of our solar system, populated by trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), serve as intriguing laboratories for unraveling the mysteries of our cosmic origins. Leveraging the capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the NIRSpec IFU, the DiSCo-TNOs large program observed 59 TNOs and Centaurs in the first year of operations. Here, we present two papers (Pinilla-Alonso et al. 2024, De Prá et al. 2024) unveiling a profound tapestry of compositional diversity among these celestial bodies.

The first paper weaves the narrative of compositional classes among TNOs. The DiSCo database exposes three prominent groups based on the spectral features from 0.6 to 5.2 microns. The findings hint at distinct formation regions in the protoplanetary disk as the primary cause of the diversity observed in the trans-Neptunian Belt illuminating the importance of retention ice lines in the outer regions of the protoplanetary disk and compositional evolution before a major planetary migration.

The second paper delves into the abundance of carbon dioxide (CO2) ice in the trans-Neptunian region, using the same data. The results challenge prior assumptions and mark a significant discovery: CO2 ice is widespread in the trans-Neptunian population. Furthermore, we detect carbon monoxide (CO) in 47% of the objects, with a correlation between CO abundance and elevated CO2 levels. The paper presents physical spectral models that often reproduce the unique features of the spectra due to the complex optical properties of CO2.

Together, these two papers reveal the dynamic interplay of volatile ice content at formation locations and the evolving landscapes of TNOs and Centaurs in the outer reaches of our solar system. The James Webb Space Telescope emerges as a powerful tool for future generations inviting further exploration into the depths of our celestial neighborhood.

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