Possible ring material around centaur (2060) Chiron

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

J.L. Ortiz, R. Duffard, N. Pinilla-Alonso, A. Alvarez-Candal, P. Santos-Sanz, N. Morales, E. Fernndez-Valenzuela, J. Licandro, A. Campo Bagatin, A. Thirouin

(Submitted on 23 Jan 2015)

We propose that several short duration events observed in past stellar occultations by Chiron were produced by rings material. From a reanalysis of the stellar occultation data in the literature we determined two possible orientations of the pole of Chiron's rings, with ecliptic coordinates l=(352+/-10) deg, b=(37+/-10) deg or l=(144+/-10) deg, b=(24+/-10) deg . The mean radius of the rings is (324 +/- 10) km. One can use the rotational lightcurve amplitude of Chiron at different epochs to distinguish between the two solutions for the pole. Both imply lower lightcurve amplitude in 2013 than in 1988, when the rotational lightcurve was first determined. We derived Chiron's rotational lightcurve in 2013 from observations at the 1.23-m CAHA telescope and indeed its amplitude is smaller than in 1988. We also present a rotational lightcurve in 2000 from images taken at CASLEO 2.15-m telescope that is consistent with our predictions. Out of the two poles the l=(144+/-10) deg, b=(24+/-10) deg solution provides a better match to a compilation of rotational lightcurve amplitudes from the literature and those presented here. We also show that using this preferred pole, Chiron's long term brightness variations are compatible with a simple model that incorporates the changing brightness of the rings as the tilt angle with respect to the Earth changes with time. Also, the variability of the water ice band in Chiron's spectra in the literature can be explained to a large degree by an icy ring system whose tilt angle changes with time and whose composition includes water ice, analogously to the case of Chariklo. We present several possible formation scenarios for the rings from qualitative points of view and speculate on the reasons why rings might be common in centaurs. We speculate on whether the known bimodal color distribution of centaurs could be due to presence of rings and lack of them.

Subjects:Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as:arXiv:1501.05911 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1501.05911v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jose L. Ortiz  

[v1] Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:54:57 GMT (1282kb,D)


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