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See detailPluto's atmosphere from stellar occultations in 2012 and 2013
Dias-Oliveira, Alex; Sicardy, Bruno; Lellouch, Emmanuel et al

in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (2015, November 01), 47

We present results from two Pluto stellar occultations observed on 18 July 2012 and 04 May 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites in South America. Both campaigns involved large ... [more ▼]

We present results from two Pluto stellar occultations observed on 18 July 2012 and 04 May 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites in South America. Both campaigns involved large telescopes (including the 8.2-m VLT at ESO/Paranal). The high SNR ratios and multi-chord coverage provide amoung the best Pluto atmospheric profiles ever obtained from the ground.We show that a spherically symmetric, clear (no-haze) and pure N2 atmosphere with a unique temperature profile satisfactorily fits the twelve lightcurves provided by the two events. We find, however, a small but significant increase of pressure of 6% (6-sigma level) between the two dates, with values of 2.16 ± 0.2 and 2.30 ± 0.01 μbar at the reference radius 1275 km, respectively.We provide atmospheric constrains between 1190 km and 1450 km from Pluto's center, and we determine the temperature profile with accuracy of a few km in vertical scale. Our model shows a stratosphere with strong positive gradient between 1190 km (at 36 K, 11 μbar) and r =1215 km (6.0 μbar), where a temperature maximum of 110 K is reached. Above it is a mesosphere with negative thermal gradient of -0.2 K/km up to 1,390 km (0.25 μbar), at which point, the mesosphere connects itself to a more isothermal upper branch at 81 K. This profile provides (assuming no troposphere) a Pluto surface radius of 1190 ± 5 km, consistent with preliminary values obtained by New Horizons. Currently measured CO abundances are too low to explain the negative mesospheric thermal gradient. We explore the possibility of an HCN (recently detected by ALMA) cooling. This model, however, requires largely supersaturated HCN. Zonal winds and vertical compositional variations of the atmosphere are also unable to explain the observed mesospheric trend.These events are the last useful ground-based occultations recorded before the 29 June 2015 occultation observed from Australia and New Zealand, and before the NASA's New Horizons flyby of July 2015. This work can serve as a benchmark in the New Horizons context, enabling comparisons between ground-based and space results concerning Pluto's atmospheric structure and temporal evolution. [less ▲]

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See detailChariklo's size, shape and orientation from stellar occultations
Bérard, Diane; Sicardy, Bruno; Assafin, Marcelo et al

in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (2015, November 01), 47

Chariklo is the largest Centaur object known to date, and it is surrounded by dense and narrow rings (Braga-Ribas et al. Nature 508, 72, 2014). The size, shape and orientation of the central body are ... [more ▼]

Chariklo is the largest Centaur object known to date, and it is surrounded by dense and narrow rings (Braga-Ribas et al. Nature 508, 72, 2014). The size, shape and orientation of the central body are important parameters to better understand the dynamics of the rings.In that context, we have analyzed three stellar occultations by Chariklo and its main ring observed on June 3, 2013, April 29, 2014 and June 28, 2014. Elliptical limb fitting to Chariklo’s main body occultation chords has been performed, where we denote a (resp. b) the semi-major (resp. semi-minor) axis of the limb. Preliminary results indicate that Chariklo’s limb is elliptical with axes ratio b/a~0.89. We obtain a~133 km and b~119 km, providing an equivalent radius of R[SUB]equiv[/SUB]=√(ab)~126 km. The rms dispersion of the fit, about 4 km, is compatible with local topographic features on a small icy body. For comparison, an equivalent radius of R[SUB]equiv[/SUB]= 119±5 km, based on thermal data, is given by Fornasier et al, AA 518, L11, 2014, while Duffard et al. AA 568, A79, 2014 estimate a= 122 km and b= 117 km.Our results are obtained under the simplifying assumption that the main ring is circular and that its center coincides with that of Chariklo. Caveats and error bars will be discussed, and dynamical implications will be presented. In particular, rough estimations of the ring apsidal precession rates will be given, as well as constraints on Chariklo's density. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal variability of the Canary Current: a numerical study
Mason, Evan; Colas, François; Molemaker, Jeroen et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Oceans (2011), 116

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