Trans-Neptunian Objects Found in the First Four Years of the Dark Energy Survey

Pedro H. Bernardinelli, Gary M. Bernstein, Masao Sako, Tongtian Liu, William R. Saunders, Tali Khain, Hsing Wen Lin, David W. Gerdes, Dillon Brout, Fred C. Adams, Matthew Belyakov, Aditya Inada Somasundaram, Lakshay Sharma, Jennifer Locke, Kyle Franson, Juliette C. Becker, Kevin Napier, Larissa Markwardt, James Annis, T. M.C. AbbottS. Avila, D. Brooks, D. L. Burke, A. Carnero Rosell, M. Carrasco Kind, F. J. Castander, L. N.Da Costa, J. De Vicente, S. Desai, H. T. Diehl, P. Doel, S. Everett, B. Flaugher, J. García-Bellido, D. Gruen, R. A. Gruendl, J. Gschwend, G. Gutierrez, D. L. Hollowood, D. J. James, M. W.G. Johnson, M. D. Johnson, E. Krause, N. Kuropatkin, M. A.G. Maia, M. March, R. Miquel, F. Paz-Chinchón, A. A. Plazas, A. K. Romer, E. S. Rykoff, C. Sánchez, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, S. Serrano, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, M. Smith, F. Sobreira, E. Suchyta, M. E.C. Swanson, G. Tarle, A. R. Walker, W. Wester, Y. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a catalog of 316 trans-Neptunian bodies (TNOs) detected from the first four seasons ("Y4"data) of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). The survey covers a contiguous 5000 deg2 of the southern sky in the grizY optical/NIR filter set, with a typical TNO in this part of the sky being targeted by 25-30 Y4 exposures. This paper focuses on the methods used to detect these objects from the ≈60,000 Y4 exposures, a process made challenging by the absence of the few-hour repeat observations employed by TNO-optimized surveys. Newly developed techniques include: transient/moving object detection by comparison of single-epoch catalogs to catalogs of "stacked"images; quantified astrometric error from atmospheric turbulence; new software for detecting TNO linkages in a temporally sparse transient catalog, and for estimating the rate of spurious linkages; use of faint stars to determine the detection efficiency versus magnitude in all exposures. Final validation of the reality of linked orbits uses a new "sub-threshold confirmation"test, wherein we demand the object be detectable in a stack of the exposures in which the orbit indicates an object should be present, but was not individually detected. This catalog contains all validated TNOs which were detected on ≥6 unique nights in the Y4 data, and is complete to r ≲ 23.3 mag with virtually no dependence on orbital properties for bound TNOs at distance 30 au < d < 2500 au. The catalog includes 245 discoveries by DES, 139 not previously published. The final DES TNO catalog is expected to yield >0.3 mag more depth, and arcs of >4 yr for nearly all detections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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