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Carbonization in Titan Tholins: implication for low albedo on surfaces of Centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects

  • Chaitanya Giri (a1) (a2), Christopher P. McKay (a3), Fred Goesmann (a1), Nadine Schäfer (a4), Xiang Li (a5), Harald Steininger (a1), William B. Brinckerhoff (a6), Thomas Gautier (a1) (a6), Joachim Reitner (a4) (a7) and Uwe J. Meierhenrich (a2)...

Abstract

Astronomical observations of Centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) yield two characteristic features – near-infrared (NIR) reflectance and low geometric albedo. The first feature apparently originates due to complex organic material on their surfaces, but the origin of the material contributing to low albedo is not well understood. Titan tholins synthesized to simulate aerosols in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan have also been used for simulating the NIR reflectances of several Centaurs and TNOs. Here, we report novel detections of large polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nanoscopic soot aggregates and cauliflower-like graphite within Titan tholins. We put forth a proof of concept stating the surfaces of Centaurs and TNOs may perhaps comprise of highly ‘carbonized’ complex organic material, analogous to the tholins we investigated. Such material would apparently be capable of contributing to the NIR reflectances and to the low geometric albedos simultaneously.

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Carbonization in Titan Tholins: implication for low albedo on surfaces of Centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects

  • Chaitanya Giri (a1) (a2), Christopher P. McKay (a3), Fred Goesmann (a1), Nadine Schäfer (a4), Xiang Li (a5), Harald Steininger (a1), William B. Brinckerhoff (a6), Thomas Gautier (a1) (a6), Joachim Reitner (a4) (a7) and Uwe J. Meierhenrich (a2)...

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