Catania Astrophysical Observatory
Osservatorio Astrofisico
di Catania

International Workshop
Trans Neptunian Objects
Dynamical and Physical properties
Catania, Hotel Nettuno
July 3-7 2006
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica
Istituto Nazionale
di Astrofisica

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Catania Astrophysical Observatory


Knowledge of the dynamical and physico-chemical properties of the trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) is still scarce. There are a number of key questions that one would like to answer guided by observations, models and laboratory data. Most of these questions are complicated by the fact that the surfaces of the TNO's are 'weathered' by impacts, by the solar UV, by energetic particle radiation and by thermal processing.
- Which is the structure of the classical Kuiper Belt region?
- How such a structure evolved from the epoch of the formation to the present era?
- Which is the luminosity function?
- There is any correlation between orbital parameters and spectral properties (colors)?
- Which materials and surface weathering mechanisms produce the observed spectral characteristics?
- Is the chemical composition of the optical layers different from the internal layers from which most of the species emitted by comets come?
- What is the relationship of the TNOs with other objects in the Solar System such as Pluto, Triton, Centaurs, and short-period comets?

Based on solar system formation models, we have only a rough knowledge of the actual composition of the TNOs and it is unclear whether they are similar. We also have only sparse information about the aging of the observed surfaces and the relative importance of the various weathering processes.
The workshop has the primary aim to address the above questions while trying to find new ideas for observations, models, and laboratory experiments that will improve the knowledge of the properties of those fascinating objects.

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Physics and Astronomy Department, UNICT