No Evidence for Orbital Clustering in the Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects

10 Feb 2021  ·  K. J. Napier, D. W. Gerdes, Hsing Wen Lin, S. J. Hamilton, G. M. Bernstein, P. H. Bernardinelli, T. M. C. Abbott, M. Aguena, J. Annis, S. Avila, D. Bacon, E. Bertin, D. Brooks, D. L. Burke, A. Carnero Rosell, M. Carrasco Kind, J. Carretero, M. Costanzi, L. N. da Costa, J. De Vicente, H. T. Diehl, P. Doel, S. Everett, I. Ferrero, P. Fosalba, J. García Bellido, D. Gruen, R. A. Gruendl, G. Gutierrez, D. L. Hollowood, K. Honscheid, B. Hoyle, D. J. James, S. Kent, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, M. A. G. Maia, F. Menanteau, R. Miquel, R. Morgan, A. Palmese, F. Paz-Chinchón, A. A. Plazas, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, S. Serrano, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, M. Smith, E. Suchyta, M. E. C. Swanson, C. To, A. R. Walker, R. D. Wilkinson ·

The apparent clustering in longitude of perihelion $\varpi$ and ascending node $\Omega$ of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs) has been attributed to the gravitational effects of an unseen 5-10 Earth-mass planet in the outer solar system. To investigate how selection bias may contribute to this clustering, we consider 14 ETNOs discovered by the Dark Energy Survey, the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, and the survey of Sheppard and Trujillo. Using each survey's published pointing history, depth, and TNO tracking selections, we calculate the joint probability that these objects are consistent with an underlying parent population with uniform distributions in $\varpi$ and $\Omega$. We find that the mean scaled longitude of perihelion and orbital poles of the detected ETNOs are consistent with a uniform population at a level between $17\%$ and $94\%$, and thus conclude that this sample provides no evidence for angular clustering.

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Earth and Planetary Astrophysics