Astrometry and Occultation Predictions to Trans-Neptunian and Centaur Objects Observed within the Dark Energy Survey
Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) are a source of invaluable information to access the history and evolution of the outer solar system. However, observing these faint objects is a difficult task. As a consequence, important properties such as size and albedo are known for only a small fraction of them. Now, with the results from deep sky surveys and the Gaia space mission, a new exciting era is within reach as accurate predictions of stellar occultations by numerous distant small solar system bodies become available. From them, diameters with kilometer accuracies can be determined. Albedos, in turn, can be obtained from diameters and absolute magnitudes. We use observations from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) from 2012 November until 2016 February, amounting to 4,292,847 charge-coupled device (CCD) frames. We searched them for all known small solar system bodies and recovered a total of 202 TNOs and Centaurs, 63 of which have been discovered by the DES collaboration as of the date of submission. Their positions were determined using the Gaia Data Release 2 as reference and their orbits were refined. Stellar occultations were then predicted using these refined orbits plus stellar positions from Gaia. These predictions are maintained, and updated, in a dedicated web service. The techniques developed here are also part of an ambitious preparation to use the data from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), that expects to obtain accurate positions and multifilter photometry for tens of thousands of TNOs.
The Astronomical Journal
- Pub Date:
- March 2019
- Kuiper belt: general;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 25 pages, submitted to Astronomical Journal