Saturnian Irregulars as a Probe of Kuiper Belt Surface Evolution
Session 1.03 Spectroscopy
Monday 06-24 | 09:50 - 10:10

Spectroscopy of Kuiper Belt objects by JWST has shown that CO2, CO, H2O, and organic ices are found in varying amounts on KBO surfaces. Interestingly, these same features are also common on the closer-in Centaurs that are sourced from the Kuiper belt. Many of these Centaurs show no activity, despite being well inside of the sublimation lines for the ices seen on their surfaces. The story of how these icy surfaces evolve thus remains unclear even with the wealth of new spectroscopic data, especially as the short dynamical lifetimes of Centaurs obscures the long-term evolution of KBO surfaces. To probe what heating and irradiation do to KBO surfaces, we examine the Saturnian irregular satellites, which are a sample of captured Kuiper Belt objects that have been at 10 AU for over 4 billion years. Saturn irregulars are both representative of the compositions of parent KBOs sourced from the excited parts of the Kuiper belt and demonstrate the effects of thermal processing of Kuiper belt surfaces at Saturnian temperatures. We present JWST NIRSpec spectroscopy of three Saturnian irregulars obtained as part of JWST Program 3716: Phoebe, Sionarq, and Albiorix, showcasing their distinct surfaces. We place our new spectra in the context of existing public Jupiter Trojan and Centaur spectra from JWST NIRSpec.

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