A serendipitous all sky survey for bright objects in the outer solar system

M. E. Brown, M. T. Bannister, B. P. Schmidt, A. J. Drake, S. G. Djorgovski, M. J. Graham, A. Mahabal, C. Donalek, S. Larson, E. Christensen, E. Beshore, R. Mcnaught

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We use seven year's worth of observations from the Catalina Sky Survey and the Siding Spring Survey covering most of the northern and southern hemisphere at galactic latitudes higher than 20° to search for serendipitously imaged moving objects in the outer solar system. These slowly moving objects would appear as stationary transients in these fast cadence asteroids surveys, so we develop methods to discover objects in the outer solar system using individual observations spaced by months, rather than spaced by hours, as is typically done. While we independently discover eight known bright objects in the outer solar system, the faintest having V = 19.8 ± 0.1, no new objects are discovered. We find that the survey is nearly 100% efficient at detecting objects beyond 25 AU for V ≲ 19.1 (V ≲ 18.6 in the southern hemisphere) and that the probability that there is one or more remaining outer solar system object of this brightness left to be discovered in the unsurveyed regions of the galactic plane is approximately 32%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number69
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Kuiper belt: general
  • Planets and satellites: detection
  • Planets and satellites: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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