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Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, France

Taris F.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Andrei A.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Andrei A.,Federal University of Rio de Janeiro | Roland J.,CNRS Paris Institute of Astrophysics | And 4 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2016

Context. The Gaia astrometric mission of the European Space Agency was launched on December 2013. It will provide a catalog of 500 000 quasars. Some of these targets will be chosen to build an optical reference system that will be linked to the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF). The astrometric coordinates of these sources will have roughly the same uncertainty at both optical and radio wavelengths, and it is then mandatory to observe a common set of targets to build the link. In the ICRF, some targets have been chosen because of their pointlikeness. They are quoted as defining sources, and they ensure very good uncertainty about their astrometric coordinates. At optical wavelengths, a comparable uncertainty could be achieved for targets that do not exhibit strong astrophysical phenomena, which is a potential source of photocenter flickering. A signature of these phenomena is a magnitude variation at optical wavelengths. Aims. The goal of this work is to present the time series of 14 targets suitable for the link between the ICRF and the future Gaia Celestial Reference Frame. The observations have been done systematically by robotic telescopes in France and Chile once every two nights since 2011 and in two filters. These time series are analyzed to search for periodic or quasi-periodic phenomena that must be taken into account when computing the uncertainty about the astrometric coordinates. Methods. Two independent methods were used in this work to analyze the time series. We used the CLEAN algorithm to compare the frequency obtained to those given by the Lomb-Scargle method. It avoids misinterpreting the frequency peaks given in the periodograms. Results. For the 14 targets we determine some periods with a confidence level above 90% in each case. Some of the periods found in this work were not previously known. For the others, we did a comparative study of the periods previously studied by others and always confirm their values. All the periods given by the two methods are in good agreement with the difference always below 7.9% in the worst case. Finally we also present the structure functions for our two sets of objects (BL Lac and Seyfert galaxies). Conclusions. For all but one target, we find variations that could be the signature of periodic or quasi-periodic phenomena. Our time series could allow to bring some constraints on astrophysical models that could explain such variations. Binary black hole system, instabilities in the jet or in the accretion disk, changes in the torus structure are some of these astrophysical phenomena. They must be kept in mind when evaluating the uncertainty about the astrometric position of the targets suitable for the link between reference systems in a conservative way. © ESO, 2016. Source


Taris F.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Andrei A.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Andrei A.,Federal University of Rio de Janeiro | Andrei A.,National institute for astrophysics | And 13 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2013

Context. The astrometric mission Gaia of the European Space Agency is scheduled to be launched in 2013. It will provide an astrometric catalog of 500 000 extragalactic sources that could be the basis of a new optical reference frame after the Hipparcos satellite one. On the other hand, the current International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF) is based on observations of extragalactic sources at radio wavelength. The astrometric coordinates of sources in these two reference systems will have roughly the same uncertainty. It is then mandatory to observe a set of common targets at both optical and radio wavelengths to link the ICRF with what could be called the Gaia Celestial Reference Frame (GCRF). Aims. The goal of this work is to observe a first set of 70 extragalactic sources at optical wavelengths that could achieve the link with the ICRF. Variations in the light curves of these targets are connected with astrophysical processes that could produce displacements of the optical photocenter. Such displacements, if they exist, are critical in the framework of the link of reference systems. Methods. Four telescopes were used to observe the targets at optical wavelengths. Two of them are located in France, one in Chile, and the last one in Australia. First observations were carried out during one year and a half in the R and V bands. A new method of characterizing the compactness of the targets was applied to the images obtained. Results. This paper presents results for the optical monitoring of extragalactic sources suitable for linking reference systems. We show that a large number of targets in our set are variable at the two observational wavelengths. A short presentation of each object is given, along with some references to earlier photometric studies. A morphological index is defined and applied to the 5000 images obtained during the observation campaign. Conclusions. This work fits into a more general project of astrophotometric and astrophysical studies of extragalactic radiosources in the framework of the reference systems. It brings to the astrometric community some information at optical wavelengths about a set of targets that could be used for the link between the radio ICRF and the future GCRF. © 2013 ESO. Source

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