Pluto's ephemeris from ground-based stellar occultations (1988-2016)

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

J. Desmars, E. Meza, B. Sicardy, M. Assafin, J.I.B. Camargo, F. Braga-Ribas, G. Benedetti-Rossi, A. Dias-Oliveira, B. Morgado, A.R. Gomes-Junior, R. Vieira-Martins, R. Behrend, J. Luis Ortiz, R. Duffard, N. Morales, P. Santos Sanz

(Submitted on 12 Mar 2019)

From 1988 to 2016, several stellar occultations have been observed to characterize Pluto's atmosphere and its evolution (Meza et al, 2019). From each stellar occultation, an accurate astrometric position of Pluto at the observation epoch is derived. These positions mainly depend on the position of the occulted star and the precision of the timing. We present Pluto's astrometric positions derived from 19 occultations from 1988 to 2016 (11 from Meza et al. (2019) and 8 from other publications). Using Gaia DR2 for the positions of the occulted stars, the accuracy of these positions is estimated to 2-10~milliarcsec depending on the observation circumstances. From these astrometric positions, we derive an updated ephemeris of Pluto's system barycentre using the NIMA code (Desmars et al., 2015). The astrometric positions are derived by fitting the occultation's light curves by a model of Pluto's atmosphere. The fits provide the observed position of the body's centre for a reference star position. Other publications usually provide circumstances of the occultation such as the coordinates of the stations, the timing, and the impact parameter (i.e. the closest distance between the station and the centre of the shadow). From these parameters, we use a procedure based on the Bessel method to derive an astrometric position. We derive accurate Pluto's astrometric positions from 1988 to 2016. These positions are used to refine the orbit of Pluto'system barycentre providing an ephemeris, accurate to the milliarcsec level, over the period 2000-2020, allowing better predictions for future stellar occultations.

Comments: accepted for publication in A&A, 15 pages, 29 figures

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

Cite as: arXiv:1903.04800 [astro-ph.EP]

  (or arXiv:1903.04800v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Josselin Desmars 

[v1] Tue, 12 Mar 2019 09:43:06 UTC (2,479 KB)

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