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Tanga P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Carry B.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Colas F.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Delbo M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 39 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2015

Asteroid (234) Barbara is the prototype of a category of asteroids that has been shown to be extremely rich in refractory inclusions, the oldest material ever found in the Solar system. It exhibits several peculiar features, most notably its polarimetric behaviour. In recent years other objects sharing the same property (collectively known as 'Barbarians') have been discovered. Interferometric observations in the mid-infrared with the ESO VLTI (Very Large Telescope Interferometer) suggested that (234) Barbara might have a bi-lobated shape or even a large companion satellite. We use a large set of 57 optical light curves acquired between 1979 and 2014, together with the timings of two stellar occultations in 2009, to determine the rotation period, spin-vector coordinates, and 3-D shape of (234) Barbara, using two different shape reconstruction algorithms. By using the light curves combined to the results obtained from stellar occultations, we are able to show that the shape of (234) Barbara exhibits large concave areas. Possible links of the shape to the polarimetric properties and the object evolution are discussed. We also show that VLTI data can be modelled without the presence of a satellite. © 2015 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Capobianco G.,National institute for astrophysics | Fineschi S.,National institute for astrophysics | Massone G.,National institute for astrophysics | Balboni E.,Associazione Apriticielo | And 6 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2012

Polarimeters based on electro-optically tunable liquid crystals (LC) represent a new technology in the field of observational astrophysics. LC-based polarimeters are good candidates for replacing mechanically rotating polarimeters in most ground-based and space-based applications. During the 2006 total solar eclipse, we measured the visible-light polarized brightness (pB) of the solar K-corona with a LC-based polarimeter and imager (E-KPol). In this presentation, we describe the results obtained with the E-KPol, and we evaluate its performances in view of using a similar device for the pB imaging of the K-corona from space-based coronagraphs. Specifically, a broad-band LC polarimeter is planned for the METIS (Multi Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy) coronagraph for the Solar Orbiter mission to be launched in 2017. The METIS science driver of deriving the coronal electron density from pB images requires an accuracy of better than 1% in the measurement of linear polarization. We present the implications of this requirement on the METIS design to minimize the instrumental polarization of the broad-band visible-light (590-650 nm) polarimeter and of the other optics in the METIS visible-light path. Finally, we report preliminary ellipsometric measurements of the optical components of the METIS visible-light path. © 2012 SPIE.

Raiteri C.M.,National institute for astrophysics | Villata M.,National institute for astrophysics | Aller M.F.,University of Michigan | Gurwell M.A.,Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | And 71 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2011

Context. The blazar 3C 454.3 is one of the most active sources from the radio to the γ-ray frequencies observed in the past few years. Aims. We present multiwavelength observations of this source from April 2008 to March 2010. The radio to optical data are mostly from the GASP-WEBT, UV and X-ray data from Swift, and γ-ray data from the AGILE and Fermi satellites. The aim is to understand the connection among emissions at different frequencies and to derive information on the emitting jet. Methods. Light curves in 18 bands were carefully assembled to study flux variability correlations. We improved the calibration of optical-UV data from the UVOT and OM instruments and estimated the Lyα flux to disentangle the contributions from different components in this spectral region. Results. The observations reveal prominent variability above 8 GHz. In the optical-UV band, the variability amplitude decreases with increasing frequency due to a steadier radiation from both a broad line region and an accretion disc. The optical flux reaches nearly the same levels in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 observing seasons; the mm one shows similar behaviour, whereas the γ and X-ray flux levels rise in the second period. Two prominent γ-ray flares in mid 2008 and late 2009 show a double-peaked structure, with a variable γ/optical flux ratio. The X-ray flux variations seem to follow the γ-ray and optical ones by about 0.5 and 1 d, respectively. Conclusions. We interpret the multifrequency behaviour in terms of an inhomogeneous curved jet, where synchrotron radiation of increasing wavelength is produced in progressively outer and wider jet regions, which can change their orientation in time. In particular, we assume that the long-term variability is due to this geometrical effect. By combining the optical and mm light curves to fit the γ and X-ray ones, we find that the γ (X-ray) emission may be explained by inverse-Comptonisation of synchrotron optical (IR) photons by their parent relativistic electrons (SSC process). A slight, variable misalignment between the synchrotron and Comptonisation zones would explain the increased γ and X-ray flux levels in 2009-2010, as well as the change in the γ/optical flux ratio during the outbursts peaks. The time delays of the X-ray flux changes after the γ, and optical ones are consistent with the proposed scenario. © 2011 ESO.

Desidera S.,National institute for astrophysics | Bonomo A.S.,National institute for astrophysics | Claudi R.U.,National institute for astrophysics | Damasso M.,National institute for astrophysics | And 53 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2014

We performed an intensive radial velocity monitoring of XO-2S, the wide companion of the transiting planet-host XO-2N, using HARPS-N at TNG in the framework of the GAPS programme. The radial velocity measurements indicate the presence of a new planetary system formed by a planet that is slightly more massive than Jupiter at 0.48 au and a Saturn-mass planet at 0.13 au. Both planetary orbits are moderately eccentric and were found to be dynamically stable. There are also indications of a long-term trend in the radial velocities. This is the first confirmed case of a wide binary whose components both host planets, one of which is transiting, which makes the XO-2 system a unique laboratory for understanding the diversity of planetary systems. © ESO, 2014.

Damasso M.,National institute for astrophysics | Biazzo K.,National institute for astrophysics | Bonomo A.S.,National institute for astrophysics | Desidera S.,National institute for astrophysics | And 67 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2015

Aims. XO-2 is the first confirmed wide stellar binary system where the almost twin components XO-2N and XO-2S have planets, and it is a peculiar laboratory in which to investigate the diversity of planetary systems. This stimulated a detailed characterization study of the stellar and planetary components based on new observations. Methods. We collected high-resolution spectra with the HARPS-N spectrograph and multi-band light curves. Spectral analysis led to an accurate determination of the stellar atmospheric parameters and characterization of the stellar activity, and high-precision radial velocities of XO-2N were measured. We collected 14 transit light curves of XO-2Nb used to improve the transit parameters. Photometry provided accurate magnitude differences between the stars and a measure of their rotation periods. Results. The iron abundance of XO-2N was found to be +0.054 dex greater, within more than 3σ, than that of XO-2S. The existence of a long-term variation in the radial velocities of XO-2N is confirmed, and we detected a turnover with respect to previous measurements. We suggest the presence of a second massive companion in an outer orbit or the stellar activity cycle as possible causes of the observed acceleration. The latter explanation seems more plausible with the present dataset. We obtained an accurate value of the projected spin-orbit angle for the XO-2N system (λ = 7° ± 11°), and estimated the real 3D spin-orbit angle (ψ =27+12 -27 degrees). We measured the XO-2 rotation periods, and found a value of P = 41.6 ± 1.1 days in the case of XO-2N, in excellent agreement with the predictions. The period of XO-2S appears shorter, with an ambiguity between 26 and 34.5 days that we cannot solve with the present dataset alone. The analysis of the stellar activity shows that XO-2N appears to be more active than the companion, perhaps because we sampled different phases of their activity cycle, or because of an interaction between XO-2N and its hot Jupiter that we could not confirm. © 2015 ESO.

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