Distant trans-Neptunian object candidates from NASA's TESS mission scrutinized: fainter than predicted or false positives?

de la Fuente Marcos, C.; de la Fuente Marcos, R.; Vaduvescu, O.; Stănescu, M.
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is performing a homogeneous survey of the sky from space in search of transiting exoplanets. The collected data are also being used for detecting passing Solar system objects, including 17 new outer Solar system body candidates located at geocentric distances in the range 80-200 au, that need follow-up observations with ground-based telescope resources for confirmation. Here, we present results of a proof-of-concept mini-survey aimed at recovering two of these candidates that was carried out with the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope and a QHY600L CMOS camera mounted at its prime focus. For each candidate attempted, we surveyed a square of over 1○ × 1○ around its expected coordinates in Sloan r'. The same patch of sky was revisited in five consecutive or nearly consecutive nights, reaching S/N > 4 at $r^{\prime }\, \lt $23 mag. We focused on the areas of sky around the circumpolar TESS candidates located at (07h:00m:15s, +86○:55':19″), 202.8 au from Earth, and (06h:39m:47s, +83○:43':54″) at 162.1 au, but we could not recover either of them at $r^{\prime }\, \le$23 mag. Based on the detailed analysis of the acquired images, we confirm that either both candidates are much fainter than predicted or that they are false positives.