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High Precision Photometry of Extreme KBO 2003 EL61

Authors: Pedro Lacerda, David Jewitt, Nuno Peixinho

Ref.: The Astronomical Journal 135, 1749-1756 (2008)

Abstract: We present high precision, time-resolved visible and near infrared photometry of the large (diameter ~ 2500 km) Kuiper belt object (136108) 2003 EL61. The new data confirm rapid rotation at period P = 3.9155+/-0.0001 hr with a peak-to-peak photometric range (Delta m_R) = 0.29+/-0.02 mag and further show subtle but reproducible color variations with rotation. Rotational deformation of 2003 EL61 alone would give rise to a symmetric lightcurve free of color variations. The observed photometric deviations from the best-fit equilibrium model show the existence of a large surface region with an albedo and color different from the mean surface of 2003 EL61. We explore constraints on the nature of this anomalous region set by the existing data.

DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/135/5/1749