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Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, France

Drummond J.D.,Air Force Research Lab | Carry B.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Merline W.J.,Southwest Research Institute | Dumas C.,University of Chile | And 5 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2014

The dwarf planet (1) Ceres, the largest object between Mars and Jupiter, is the target of the NASA Dawn mission, and we seek a comprehensive description of the spin-axis orientation and dimensions of Ceres in order to support the early science operations at the rendezvous in 2015. We have obtained high-angular resolution images using adaptive optics cameras at the W.M. Keck Observatory and the ESO VLT over ten dates between 2001 and 2010, confirming that the shape of Ceres is well described by an oblate spheroid. We derive equatorial and polar diameters of 967. ±. 10. km and 892. ±. 10. km, respectively, for a model that includes fading of brightness towards the terminator, presumably linked to limb darkening. These dimensions lie between values derived from a previous analysis of a subset of these images obtained at Keck by Carry et al. (Carry et al. [2008]. Astron. Astrophys. 478 (4), 235-244) and a study of Hubble Space Telescope observations (Thomas et al. [2005]. Nature 437, 224-226). Although the dimensions are 1-2% smaller than those found from the HST, the oblateness is similar.We find the spin-vector coordinates of Ceres to lie at (287°, +64°) in equatorial EQJ2000 reference frame (346°, +82° in ecliptic ECJ2000 coordinates), yielding a small obliquity of 3°. While this is in agreement with the aforementioned studies, we have improved the accuracy of the pole determination, which we set at a 3° radius. © 2014. Source

Cox A.W.,Villanova University | Grady C.A.,Eureka Scientific | Grady C.A.,NASA | Hammel H.B.,AURA | And 6 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

Previous studies of the classical T Tauri star AA Tau have interpreted the UX-Orionis-like photo-polarimetric variability as being due to a warp in the inner disk caused by an inclined stellar magnetic dipole field. We test that these effects are macroscopically observable in the inclination and alignment of the disk. We use Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/STIS coronagraphic imagery to measure the V magnitude of the star for both STIS coronagraphic observations, compare these data with optical photometry in the literature, and find that, unlike other classical T Tauri stars observed in the same HST program, the disk is most robustly detected in scattered light at stellar optical minimum light. We measure the outer disk radius, 1.″15 ± 0.″10, major-axis position angle, and disk inclination and find that the inner disk, as reported in the literature, is both misinclined and misaligned with respect to the outer disk. AA Tau drives a faint jet, detected in both STIS observations and in follow-on Goddard Fabry-Perot imagery, which is also misaligned with respect to the projection of the outer disk minor axis and is poorly collimated near the star, but which can be traced 21″ from the star in data from 2005. The measured outer disk inclination, 71° ± 1°, is out of the range of inclinations suggested for stars with UX-Orionis-like variability when no grain growth has occurred in the disk. The faintness of the disk, small disk size, and detection of the star despite the high inclination all indicate that the dust disk must have experienced grain growth and settling toward the disk midplane, which we verify by comparing the observed disk with model imagery from the literature. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

Sromovsky L.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Hammel H.B.,AURA | de Pater I.,University of California at Berkeley | Fry P.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 12 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2012

The northern mid-latitudes of Uranus produce greater episodes of bright cloud formation than any other region on the planet. Near 30°N, very bright cloud features were observed in 1999, 2004, and 2005, with lifetimes of the order of months. In October 2011, Gemini and HST observations revealed another unusually bright cloud feature near 23°N, which was subsequently identified in July 2011 observations and found to be increasing in brightness. Observations obtained at Keck in November 2011 revealed a second bright spot only 2°N of the first, but with a substantially different drift rate (-9.2°E/day vs -1.4°E/day), which we later determined would lead to a close approach on 25 December 2011. A Hubble Target of Opportunity proposal was activated to image the results of the interaction. We found that the original bright spot had faded dramatically before the HST observations had begun and the second bright spot was found to be a companion of a new dark spot on Uranus, only the second ever observed. Both spots exhibited variable drift rates during the nearly 5. months of tracking, and both varied in brightness, with BS1 reaching its observed peak on 26 October 2011, and BS2 on 11 November 2011. Altitude measurements based on near-IR imaging in H and Hcont filters showed that the deeper BS2 clouds were located near the methane condensation level (≈1.2. bars), while BS1 was generally ∼500. mb above that level (at lower pressures). Large morphological changes in the bright cloud features suggest that they are companion clouds of possibly orographic nature associated with vortex circulations, perhaps similar to companion clouds associated with the Great Dark Spot on Neptune, but in this case at a much smaller size scale, spanning only a few degrees of longitude at their greatest extents. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.. Source

Sromovsky L.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Fry P.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Hammel H.B.,AURA | Hammel H.B.,Space Science Institute | And 2 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2012

Post equinox imaging of Uranus by HST, Keck, and Gemini telescopes has enabled new measurements of winds over previously sampled latitudes as well as measurements at high northern latitudes that have recently come into better view. These new observations also used techniques to greatly improve signal to noise ratios, making possible the detection and tracking of more subtle cloud features. The 250. m/s prograde jet peaking near 60°N was confirmed and more accurately characterized. Several long-lived cloud features have also been tracked. The winds pole-ward of 60°N are consistent with solid body rotation at a westward (prograde) rate of 4.3°/h with respect to Uranus' interior. When combined with 2007 and other recent measurements, it is clear that a small but well-resolved asymmetry exists in the zonal profile at middle latitudes, peaking at 35°, where southern winds are 20. m/s more westward than corresponding northern winds. High S/N Keck II imaging of the north polar region of Uranus reveals a transition from streaky bands below 60°N to a region from 60° to nearly the north pole, where widely distributed small bright spots, resembling cumulus cloud fields, with several isolated dark spots, are the dominant style of cloud features. This presents a stark contrast to 2003 detailed views of the south polar region of Uranus when no discrete cloud features could be detected in comparable Keck II near-IR images. The pressure levels of discrete clouds estimated from spatial modulations in H and Hcont images indicate that the polar cloud features are generally in the 1.3 to 2-3. bar range, as are equatorial and several mid-latitude features. Several of the brighter mid latitude features are found above the 1.2-bar level of methane condensation. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. Source

Sromovsky L.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | de Pater I.,University of California at Berkeley | Fry P.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Hammel H.B.,AURA | And 2 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2015

We imaged Uranus in the near infrared from 2012 into 2014, using the Keck/NIRC2 camera and Gemini/NIRI camera, both with adaptive optics. We obtained exceptional signal to noise ratios by averaging 8-16 individual exposures in a planet-fixed coordinate system. These noise-reduced images revealed many low-contrast discrete features and large scale cloud patterns not seen before, including scalloped waveforms just south of the equator, and an associated transverse ribbon wave near 6°S. In all three years numerous small (600-700 km wide) and mainly bright discrete features were seen within the north polar region (north of about. 55°N). Two small dark spots with bright companions were seen at middle latitudes. Over 850 wind measurements were made, the vast majority of which were in the northern hemisphere. Winds at high latitudes were measured with great precision, revealing an extended region of solid body rotation between 62°N and at least 83°N, at a rate of 4.08 ± 0.015°/h westward relative to the planet's interior (radio) rotation of 20.88°/h westward. Near-equatorial speeds measured with high accuracy give different results for waves and small discrete features, with eastward drift rates of 0.4°/h and 0.1°/h respectively. The region of polar solid body rotation is a close match to the region of small-scale polar cloud features, suggesting a dynamical relationship. The winds from prior years and those from 2012-2014 are consistent with a mainly symmetric wind profile up to middle latitudes, with a small asymmetric component of ~0.09°/h peaking near ±30°, and about 60% greater amplitude if only prior years are included, suggesting a declining mid-latitude asymmetry. While winds at high southern latitudes. (50-90°S) are unconstrained by groundbased observations, a recent reanalysis of 1986 Voyager 2 observations by Karkoschka (Karkoschka [2015]. Icarus 250, 294-307) has revealed an extremely large north-south asymmetry in this region, which might be seasonal. Greatly increased activity was seen in 2014, including the brightest ever feature seen in K' images (de Pater et al. [2015]. Icarus 252, 121-128), as well as other significant features, some of which had long lives. Over the 2012-2014 period we identified six persistent discrete features. Three were tracked for more than 2 years, two more for more than 1 year, and one for at least 5 months and continuing. Several drifted in latitude towards the equator, and others appeared to exhibit latitudinal oscillations with long periods. We found two pairs of long-lived features that survived multiple passages within their own diameters of each other. Zonally averaged cloud patterns were found to persist over 2012-2014. When averaged over longitude, there is a brightness variation with latitude from 55°N to the pole that is similar to effective methane mixing ratio variations with latitude derived from 2012 STIS observations (Sromovsky et al. [2014]. Icarus 238, 137-155). © 2015 Elsevier Inc. Source

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