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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The search for slow moving planets in the distant solar system Ashton, Edward James


Out beyond the giant planets is a collection of bodies left over from planet formation. The objects that are just beyond Neptune are well studied compared to those that journey hundreds of au away; all such objects have been observed inside 100 au. We use a deep narrow survey and an uncommon technique to search for objects currently at large heliocentric distances. Using data from the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS), which covered ∼160 square degrees down to r ∼ 25, we searched for objects beyond 300 au. To find such objects we created a catalogue of all of the objects that were stationary of the astronomical seeing in three images taken over 2 hours. We then examined the stationary objects that were no longer there days/weeks/months before and after the three images. Although other astronomical phenomena like supernovae where discovered, no slow moving solar system object was found. From the null detection and using a survey simulator we obtain a 95% upper limit to the number of dwarf planets (-3 > H > 2) in the distant solar system, 1100 (+1700/−800). To our knowledge this is the first published limit for dwarf planets beyond several hundred au.

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