The DECam Ecliptic Exploration Project (DEEP)
Session 4.07 Surveys
Tuesday 06-25 | 14:30 - 14:50

We present here the DECam Ecliptic Exploration Project (DEEP), a three year NOAO/NOIRLab Survey that was allocated 46.5 nights to discover and measure the properties of thousands of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) to magnitudes as faint as VR~27, corresponding to sizes as small as 20 km diameter. The core method of our project is digital tracking, in which four-hour sequences of ~100 images are combined at a range of possible motion vectors to detect unknown TNOs that are fainter than the single exposure depth of VR~23. Overall we reach 50% efficiency around 26.2 mag, though our best nights are significantly more sensitive. Given this deep and wide survey, DEEP will more than double the number of known TNOs with observational arcs of 24 hours or more, and increase by a factor of 10 or more the number of known small (<50 km) TNOs.

We will present the overall science goals of this project and results from our first six papers (in press, presumably published before June), including details about the detection of 2300 candidate sources; the absolute magnitude distribution of faint TNOs to sizes as small as 10 km; the orbital properties of a small subset of our multi-year linked objects; and the lightcurve and shape distributions of 26 TNOs in the size range 100–200 km. Our size distribution results are consistent with both an exponentially tapered power-law, which is predicted by streaming instability models of planetesimal formation, and a rolling power law. Our results imply an updated mass estimate for the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt of around 0.0017 M⊕︎ for objects larger than around 10 km.

We will also present our timeline for the remaining data processing and the expectations for our final catalog. We will present some new results and describe the next papers that our DEEP team will produce.

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