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See detailMonitoring of comets activity and composition with the TRAPPIST-North telescope
Moulane, Youssef ULiege; Benkhaldoun, Zouhair; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege et al

in Journal of Physics. Conference Series (2017, July), 869

TRAPPIST-North (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is a 60-cm robotic telescope that was installed in May 2016 at the Oukaimeden Observatory. The project is led by the University of ... [more ▼]

TRAPPIST-North (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is a 60-cm robotic telescope that was installed in May 2016 at the Oukaimeden Observatory. The project is led by the University of Liège (Belgium) and the Caddi Ayad University of Marrakech (Morocco). This telescope is a twin of the TRAPPIST-South telescope, which was installed at the ESO La Silla Observatory in 2010. The TRAPPIST telescopes are dedicated to the detection and characterization of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun (exoplanets) and the study of comets and other small bodies in our solar system. For the comets research, these telescopes have very sensitive CCD cameras with complete sets of narrow band filters to measure the production rates of several gases (OH, NH, CN, C3 and C2) and the dust. With TRAPPIST-North we can also observe comets that would not be visible in the southern hemisphere. Therfore, with these two telescopes, we can now observe continuously the comets around their orbit. We project to study individually the evolution of the activity, chemical composition, dust properties, and coma morphology of several comets per year and of different origins (New comets and Jupiter Family comets) over a wide range of heliocentric distances, and on both sides of perihelion. We measure the production rates of each daughter molecules using a Haser model, in addition to the Afρ parameter to estimate the dust production in the coma. In this work, we present the first measurements of the production rates of comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) observed with TN in June 2016, and the measurements of comet C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) observed in 2014 with TRAPPIST-South. [less ▲]

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See detailThe 19 Feb. 2016 Outburst of Comet 67P/CG: An ESA Rosetta Multi-Instrument Study
Grün, E.; Agarwal, J.; Altobelli, N. et al

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016)

On 19 Feb. 2016 nine Rosetta instruments serendipitously observed an outburst of gas and dust from the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Among these instruments were cameras and spectrometers ... [more ▼]

On 19 Feb. 2016 nine Rosetta instruments serendipitously observed an outburst of gas and dust from the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Among these instruments were cameras and spectrometers ranging from UV over visible to microwave wavelengths, in-situ gas, dust and plasma instruments, and one dust collector. At 9:40 a dust cloud developed at the edge of an image in the shadowed region of the nucleus. Over the next two hours the instruments recorded a signature of the outburst that significantly exceeded the background. The enhancement ranged from 50% of the neutral gas density at Rosetta to factors >100 of the brightness of the coma near the nucleus. Dust related phenomena (dust counts or brightness due to illuminated dust) showed the strongest enhancements (factors >10). However, even the electron density at Rosetta increased by a factor 3 and consequently the spacecraft potential changed from ˜-16 V to -20 V during the outburst. A clear sequence of events was observed at the distance of Rosetta (34 km from the nucleus): within 15 minutes the Star Tracker camera detected fast particles (˜25 m s[SUP]-1[/SUP]) while 100 μm radius particles were detected by the GIADA dust instrument ˜1 hour later at a speed of ~6 m s[SUP]-1[/SUP]. The slowest were individual mm to cm sized grains observed by the OSIRIS cameras. Although the outburst originated just outside the FOV of the instruments, the source region and the magnitude of the outburst could be determined. [less ▲]

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See detailTemperate Earth-sized planets transiting a nearby ultracool dwarf star
Gillon, Michaël ULiege; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Lederer, Susan M. et al

in Nature (2016), 533

Star-like objects with effective temperatures of less than 2,700 kelvin are referred to as ‘ultracool dwarfs’. This heterogeneous group includes stars of extremely low mass as well as brown dwarfs ... [more ▼]

Star-like objects with effective temperatures of less than 2,700 kelvin are referred to as ‘ultracool dwarfs’. This heterogeneous group includes stars of extremely low mass as well as brown dwarfs (substellar objects not massive enough to sustain hydrogen fusion), and represents about 15 per cent of the population of astronomical objects near the Sun. Core-accretion theory predicts that, given the small masses of these ultracool dwarfs, and the small sizes of their protoplanetary disks, there should be a large but hitherto undetected population of terrestrial planets orbiting them—ranging from metal-rich Mercury-sized planets to more hospitable volatile-rich Earth-sized planets. Here we report observations of three short-period Earth-sized planets transiting an ultracool dwarf star only 12 parsecs away. The inner two planets receive four times and two times the irradiation of Earth, respectively, placing them close to the inner edge of the habitable zone of the star. Our data suggest that 11 orbits remain possible for the third planet, the most likely resulting in irradiation significantly less than that received by Earth. The infrared brightness of the host star, combined with its Jupiter-like size, offers the possibility of thoroughly characterizing the components of this nearby planetary system. [less ▲]

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See detailAbel inversion method for cometary atmospheres.
Hubert, Benoît ULiege; Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Hutsemekers, Damien ULiege et al

in Geophysical Research Abstracts (2016, April 01), 18

Remote observation of cometary atmospheres produces a measurement of the cometary emissions integrated along the line of sight joining the observing instrument and the gas of the coma. This integration is ... [more ▼]

Remote observation of cometary atmospheres produces a measurement of the cometary emissions integrated along the line of sight joining the observing instrument and the gas of the coma. This integration is the so-called Abel transform of the local emission rate. We develop a method specifically adapted to the inversion of the Abel transform of cometary emissions, that retrieves the radial profile of the emission rate of any unabsorbed emission, under the hypothesis of spherical symmetry of the coma. The method uses weighted least squares fitting and analytical results. A Tikhonov regularization technique is applied to reduce the possible effects of noise and ill-conditioning, and standard error propagation techniques are implemented. Several theoretical tests of the inversion techniques are carried out to show its validity and robustness, and show that the method is only weakly dependent on any constant offset added to the data, which reduces the dependence of the retrieved emission rate on the background subtraction. We apply the method to observations of three different comets observed using the TRAPPIST instrument: 103P/ Hartley 2, F6/ Lemmon and A1/ Siding spring. We show that the method retrieves realistic emission rates, and that characteristic lengths and production rates can be derived from the emission rate for both CN and C2 molecules. We show that the emission rate derived from the observed flux of CN emission at 387 nm and from the C2 emission at 514.1 nm of comet Siding Spring both present an easily-identifiable shoulder that corresponds to the separation between pre- and post-outburst gas. As a general result, we show that diagnosing properties and features of the coma using the emission rate is easier than directly using the observed flux. We also determine the parameters of a Haser model fitting the inverted data and fitting the line-of-sight integrated observation, for which we provide the exact analytical expression of the line-of-sight integration of the Haser model. [less ▲]

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See detailDistant activity of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014: Ground-based results during the Rosetta pre-landing phase
Snodgrass, Colin; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 588

Context. As the ESA Rosetta mission approached, orbited, and sent a lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, a large campaign of ground-based observations also followed the comet. <BR /> Aims ... [more ▼]

Context. As the ESA Rosetta mission approached, orbited, and sent a lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, a large campaign of ground-based observations also followed the comet. <BR /> Aims: We constrain the total activity level of the comet by photometry and spectroscopy to place Rosetta results in context and to understand the large-scale structure of the comet's coma pre-perihelion. <BR /> Methods: We performed observations using a number of telescopes, but concentrate on results from the 8 m VLT and Gemini South telescopes in Chile. We use R-band imaging to measure the dust coma contribution to the comet's brightness and UV-visible spectroscopy to search for gas emissions, primarily using VLT/FORS. In addition we imaged the comet in near-infrared wavelengths (JHK) in late 2014 with Gemini-S/Flamingos-2. <BR /> Results: We find that the comet was already active in early 2014 at heliocentric distances beyond 4 au. The evolution of the total activity (measured by dust) followed previous predictions. No gas emissions were detected despite sensitive searches. <BR /> Conclusions: The comet maintains a similar level of activity from orbit to orbit, and is in that sense predictable, meaning that Rosetta results correspond to typical behaviour for this comet. The gas production (for CN at least) is highly asymmetric with respect to perihelion, as our upper limits are below the measured production rates for similar distances post-perihelion in previous orbits. Based on observations made with ESO telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under programme IDs 592.C-0924, 093.C-0593, 094.C-0054, and at Gemini South under GS-2014B-Q-15 and GS-2014B-Q-76. [less ▲]

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See detailThe dust environment of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta OSIRIS and VLT observations in the 4.5 to 2.9 AU heliocentric distance range inbound
Moreno, F.; Snodgrass, C.; Hainaut, O. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 587

Context. The ESA Rosetta spacecraft, currently orbiting around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has already provided in situ measurements of the dust grain properties from several instruments,particularly ... [more ▼]

Context. The ESA Rosetta spacecraft, currently orbiting around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has already provided in situ measurements of the dust grain properties from several instruments,particularly OSIRIS and GIADA. We propose adding value to those measurements by combining them with ground-based observations of the dust tail to monitor the overall, time-dependent dust-production rate and size distribution. <BR /> Aims: To constrain the dust grain properties, we take Rosetta OSIRIS and GIADA results into account, and combine OSIRIS data during the approach phase (from late April to early June 2014) with a large data set of ground-based images that were acquired with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) from February to November 2014. <BR /> Methods: A Monte Carlo dust tail code, which has already been used to characterise the dust environments of several comets and active asteroids, has been applied to retrieve the dust parameters. Key properties of the grains (density, velocity, and size distribution) were obtained from Rosetta observations: these parameters were used as input of the code to considerably reduce the number of free parameters. In this way, the overall dust mass-loss rate and its dependence on the heliocentric distance could be obtained accurately. <BR /> Results: The dust parameters derived from the inner coma measurements by OSIRIS and GIADA and from distant imaging using VLT data are consistent, except for the power index of the size-distribution function, which is α = -3, instead of α = -2, for grains smaller than 1 mm. This is possibly linked to the presence of fluffy aggregates in the coma. The onset of cometary activity occurs at approximately 4.3 AU, with a dust production rate of 0.5 kg/s, increasing up to 15 kg/s at 2.9 AU. This implies a dust-to-gas mass ratio varying between 3.8 and 6.5 for the best-fit model when combined with water-production rates from the MIRO experiment. [less ▲]

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See detailThe compositional evolution of C/2012 S1 (ISON) from ground-based high-resolution infrared spectroscopy as part of a worldwide observing campaign
Dello Russo, N.; Vervack, R. J.; Kawakita, H. et al

in Icarus (2016), 266

Volatile production rates, relative abundances, rotational temperatures, and spatial distributions in the coma were measured in C/2012 S1 (ISON) using long-slit high-dispersion (λ/Δλ ∼ 2.5 × 10[SUP]4[/SUP ... [more ▼]

Volatile production rates, relative abundances, rotational temperatures, and spatial distributions in the coma were measured in C/2012 S1 (ISON) using long-slit high-dispersion (λ/Δλ ∼ 2.5 × 10[SUP]4[/SUP]) infrared spectroscopy as part of a worldwide observing campaign. Spectra were obtained on UT 2013 October 26 and 28 with NIRSPEC at the W.M. Keck Observatory, and UT 2013 November 19 and 20 with CSHELL at the NASA IRTF. H[SUB]2[/SUB]O was detected on all dates, with production rates increasing markedly from (8.7 ± 1.5) × 10[SUP]27[/SUP] molecules s[SUP]-1[/SUP] on October 26 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 1.12 AU) to (3.7 ± 0.4) × 10[SUP]29[/SUP] molecules s[SUP]-1[/SUP] on November 20 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 0.43 AU). Short-term variability of H[SUB]2[/SUB]O production is also seen as observations on November 19 show an increase in H[SUB]2[/SUB]O production rate of nearly a factor of two over a period of about 6 h. C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]6[/SUB], CH[SUB]3[/SUB]OH and CH[SUB]4[/SUB] abundances in ISON are slightly depleted relative to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O when compared to mean values for comets measured at infrared wavelengths. On the November dates, C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]2[/SUB], HCN and OCS abundances relative to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O appear to be within the range of mean values, whereas H[SUB]2[/SUB]CO and NH[SUB]3[/SUB] were significantly enhanced. There is evidence that the abundances with respect to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O increased for some species but not others between October 28 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 1.07 AU) and November 19 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 0.46 AU). The high mixing ratios of H[SUB]2[/SUB]CO/CH[SUB]3[/SUB]OH and C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]2[/SUB]/C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]6[/SUB] on November 19, and changes in the mixing ratios of some species with respect to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O between October 28 to November 19, indicates compositional changes that may be the result of a transition from sampling radiation-processed outer layers in this dynamically new comet to sampling more pristine natal material as the outer processed layer was increasingly eroded and the thermal wave propagated into the nucleus as the comet approached perihelion for the first time. On November 19 and 20, the spatial distribution for dust appears asymmetric and enhanced in the antisolar direction, whereas spatial distributions for volatiles (excepting CN) appear symmetric with their peaks slightly offset in the sunward direction compared to the dust. Spatial distributions for H[SUB]2[/SUB]O, HCN, C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]6[/SUB], C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]2[/SUB], and H[SUB]2[/SUB]CO on November 19 show no definitive evidence for significant contributions from extended sources; however, broader spatial distributions for NH[SUB]3[/SUB] and OCS may be consistent with extended sources for these species. Abundances of HCN and C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]2[/SUB] on November 19 and 20 are insufficient to account for reported abundances of CN and C[SUB]2[/SUB] in ISON near this time. Differences in HCN and CN spatial distributions are also consistent with HCN as only a minor source of CN in ISON on November 19 as the spatial distribution of CN in the coma suggests a dominant distributed source that is correlated with dust and not volatile release. The spatial distributions for NH[SUB]3[/SUB] and NH[SUB]2[/SUB] are similar, suggesting that NH[SUB]3[/SUB] is the primary source of NH[SUB]2[/SUB] with no evidence of a significant dust source of NH[SUB]2[/SUB]; however, the higher production rates derived for NH[SUB]3[/SUB] compared to NH[SUB]2[/SUB] on November 19 and 20 remain unexplained. This suggests a more complete analysis that treats NH[SUB]2[/SUB] as a distributed source and accounts for its emission mechanism is needed for future work. [less ▲]

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See detailLong-term activity and outburst of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) from narrow-band photometry and long-slit spectroscopy
Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Guilbert-Lepoutre, A.; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 589

In this paper, we present a unique data set of more than one year's worth of regular observations of comet C/2013 A1(Siding Spring) with TRAPPIST in Chile, along with low-resolution spectra obtained with ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we present a unique data set of more than one year's worth of regular observations of comet C/2013 A1(Siding Spring) with TRAPPIST in Chile, along with low-resolution spectra obtained with the ESO/VLT FORS 2 instrument. The comet made a close approach to Mars on October 19, 2014 and was then observed by many space and ground-based telescopes. We followed the evolution of the OH, NH, CN, $\mathrm{C_3}$, and $\mathrm{C_2}$ production rates as well as the $Af\rho$ parameter as a proxy for the dust production. We detected an outburst two weeks after perihelion, with gas and dust production rates being multiplied by a factor five within a few days. By modelling the shape of the CN and $\mathrm{C_2}$ radial profiles, we determined that the outburst happened around on November 10 around 15:30 UT ($\pm$ 5h) and measured a gas ejection velocity of $1.1\pm0.2$ km/s. We used a thermal evolution model to reproduce the activity pattern and outburst. Our results are consistent with the progressive formation of a dust mantle explaining the shallow dependence of gas production rates, which may be partially blown off during the outburst. We studied the evolution of gas composition, using various ratios such as CN/OH, $\mathrm{C_2}$/OH, or $\mathrm{C_3}$/OH, which showed little or no variation with heliocentric distance including at the time of the outburst. This indicates a relative level of homogeneity of the nucleus composition. [less ▲]

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See detailAn inversion method for cometary atmospheres
Hubert, Benoît ULiege; Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Hutsemekers, Damien ULiege et al

in Icarus (2016), 277

Remote observation of cometary atmospheres produces a measurement of the cometary emissions integrated along the line of sight. This integration is the so-called Abel transform of the local emission rate ... [more ▼]

Remote observation of cometary atmospheres produces a measurement of the cometary emissions integrated along the line of sight. This integration is the so-called Abel transform of the local emission rate. The observation is generally interpreted under the hypothesis of spherical symmetry of the coma. Under that hypothesis, the Abel transform can be inverted. We derive a numerical inversion method adapted to cometary atmospheres using both analytical results and least squares fitting techniques. This method, derived under the usual hypothesis of spherical symmetry, allows us to retrieve the radial distribution of the emission rate of any unabsorbed emission, which is the fundamental, physically meaningful quantity governing the observation. A Tikhonov regularization technique is also applied to reduce the possibly deleterious effects of the noise present in the observation and to warrant that the problem remains well posed. Standard error propagation techniques are included in order to estimate the uncertainties affecting the retrieved emission rate. Several theoretical tests of the inversion techniques are carried out to show its validity and robustness. In particular, we show that the Abel inversion of real data is only weakly sensitive to an offset applied to the input flux, which implies that the method, applied to the study of a cometary atmosphere, is only weakly dependent on uncertainties on the sky background which has to be subtracted from the raw observations of the coma. We apply the method to observations of three different comets observed using the TRAPPIST telescope: 103P/ Hartley 2, F6/ Lemmon and A1/ Siding Spring. We show that the method retrieves realistic emission rates, and that characteristic lengths and production rates can be derived from the emission rate for both CN and C2 molecules. We show that the retrieved characteristic lengths can differ from those obtained from a direct least squares fitting over the observed flux of radiation, and that discrepancies can be reconciled for by correcting this flux by an offset (to which the inverse Abel transform is nearly not sensitive). The A1/Siding Spring observations were obtained very shortly after the comet produced an outburst, and we show that the emission rate derived from the observed flux of CN emission at 387 nm and from the C2 emission at 514.1 nm both present an easily-identifiable shoulder that corresponds to the separation between pre- and post-outburst gas. As a general result, we show that diagnosing properties and features of the coma using the emission rate is easier than directly using the observed flux, because the Abel transform produces a smoothing that blurs the signatures left by features present in the coma. We also determine the parameters of a Haser model fitting the inverted data and fitting the line-of-sight integrated observation, for which we provide the exact analytical expression of the line-of-sight integration of the Haser model. [less ▲]

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See detailTRAPPIST photometry and imaging monitoring of comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy): Implications for the origin of daughter species
Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 584

We report the results of the narrow-band photometry and imaging monitoring of comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) with the robotic telescope TRAPPIST (La Silla observatory). We gathered around 400 images over 8 ... [more ▼]

We report the results of the narrow-band photometry and imaging monitoring of comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) with the robotic telescope TRAPPIST (La Silla observatory). We gathered around 400 images over 8 months pre- and post-perihelion between September 12, 2013 and July 6, 2014. We followed the evolution of the OH, NH, CN, C[SUB]3[/SUB], and C[SUB]2[/SUB] production rates computed with the Haser model, as well as the evolution of the dust production. All five gas species display an asymmetry about perihelion, since the rate of brightening is steeper than the rate of fading. The study of the coma morphology reveals gas and dust jets that indicate one or several active zone(s) on the nucleus. The dust, C[SUB]2[/SUB], and C[SUB]3[/SUB] morphologies present some similarities, while the CN morphology is different. OH and NH are enhanced in the tail direction. The study of the evolution of the comet activity shows that the OH, NH, and C[SUB]2[/SUB] production rate evolution with the heliocentric distance is correlated to the dust evolution. The CN and, to a lesser extent, the C[SUB]3[/SUB] do not display such a correlation with the dust. This evidence and the comparison with parent species production rates indicate that C[SUB]2[/SUB] and C[SUB]3[/SUB], on one hand, and OH and NH, on the other, could be - at least partially - released from organic - rich grains and icy grains. On the contrary, all evidences point to HCN being the main parent of CN in this comet. [less ▲]

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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 detailOutgassing and chemical evolution of C/2012 S1 (ISON)
Dello Russo, Neil; Vervack, Ronald J.; Kawakita, Hideyo et al

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

Volatile production rates, relative abundances, rotational temperatures, and spatial distributions in the coma were measured in C/2012 S1 (ISON) using long-slit high-dispersion (λ/Δλ ~ 25,000) infrared ... [more ▼]

Volatile production rates, relative abundances, rotational temperatures, and spatial distributions in the coma were measured in C/2012 S1 (ISON) using long-slit high-dispersion (λ/Δλ ~ 25,000) infrared spectroscopy as part of a worldwide observing campaign. Spectra were obtained on UT 2013 October 26 and 28 with NIRSPEC at the W. M. Keck Observatory, and UT 2013 November 19 and 20 with CSHELL at the NASA IRTF. H[SUB]2[/SUB]O was detected on all dates, with production rates increasing by about a factor of 40 between October 26 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 1.12 AU) and November 20 (R[SUB]h[/SUB] = 0.43 AU). Short-term variability of H[SUB]2[/SUB]O was also seen as the production rate increased by nearly a factor of two during observations obtained over a period of about six hours on November 19. C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]6[/SUB], CH[SUB]3[/SUB]OH and CH[SUB]4[/SUB] abundances were slightly depleted relative to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O in ISON compared to mean values for comets measured at infrared wavelengths. On the November dates, C[SUB]2[/SUB]H[SUB]2[/SUB], HCN and OCS abundances relative to H[SUB]2[/SUB]O appear to be close to the range of mean values, whereas H[SUB]2[/SUB]CO and NH[SUB]3[/SUB] were significantly enhanced. We will compare derived chemical abundances in ISON to other comets measured with infrared spectroscopy. [less ▲]

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See detailFive years of comet narrow band photometry and imaging with TRAPPIST
Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

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

TRAPPIST is a 60-cm robotic telescope in La Silla Observatory [1] mainly dedicated to the study of exoplanets and comets. The telescope is equipped with a set of narrow band cometary filters designed by ... [more ▼]

TRAPPIST is a 60-cm robotic telescope in La Silla Observatory [1] mainly dedicated to the study of exoplanets and comets. The telescope is equipped with a set of narrow band cometary filters designed by the NASA for the Hale-Bopp observing campaign [2]. Since its installation in 2010, we gathered a high quality and homogeneous data set of more than 30 bright comets observed with narrow band filters. Some comets were only observed for a few days but others have been observed weekly during several months on both sides of perihelion. From the images, we derived OH, NH, CN, C[SUB]2[/SUB], and C[SUB]3[/SUB] production rates using a Haser [3] model in addition to the Afρ parameter as a proxy for the dust production. We computed production rates ratios and the dust color for each comet to study their composition and followed the evolution of these ratios and colors with the heliocentric distance.The TRAPPIST data set, rich of more than 10000 images obtained and reduced in an homogeneous way, allows us to address several fundamental questions such as the pristine or evolutionary origin of composition differences among comets. The evolution of comet activity with the heliocentric distance, the differences between species, and from comet to comet, will be discussed. Finally, the first results about the one year campaign on comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) and our recent work on the re-determination of Haser scalelengths will be presented.[1] Jehin et al., The Messenger, 145, 2-6, 2011[2] Farnham et al., Icarus, 147, 180-204, 2000[3] Haser, Bulletin de l’Académie Royal des Sciences de Belgique,63, 739, 1957 [less ▲]

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

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 1506

We analyze two multi-chord stellar occultations by Pluto observed on July 18th, 2012 and May 4th, 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites. They provide a total of fifteen light-curves ... [more ▼]

We analyze two multi-chord stellar occultations by Pluto observed on July 18th, 2012 and May 4th, 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites. They provide a total of fifteen light-curves, twelve of them being used for a simultaneous fit that uses a unique temperature profile, assuming a clear (no-haze) and pure N_2 atmosphere, but allowing for a possible pressure variation between the two dates. We find a solution that fits satisfactorily (i.e. within the noise level) all the twelve light-curves, providing atmospheric constraints between ~1,190 km (pressure ~ 11 \mubar) and ~ 1,450 km (pressure ~0.1 \mubar) from Pluto's center. Our main results are: (1) the best-fitting temperature profile shows a stratosphere with strong positive gradient between 1,190 km (at 36 K, 11 \mubar) and r = 1,215 km (6.0 \mubar), 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 \mubar), where, the mesosphere connects itself to a more isothermal upper branch around 81 K; (2) the pressure shows a small (6 [less ▲]

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See detailTRAPPIST monitoring of comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon)
Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 574

We report the results of the long-term narrowband photometry and imaging monitoring of comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) with the robotic TRAPPIST telescope (La Silla Observatory). Observations covered 52 nights ... [more ▼]

We report the results of the long-term narrowband photometry and imaging monitoring of comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) with the robotic TRAPPIST telescope (La Silla Observatory). Observations covered 52 nights pre- and post-perihelion between December 11, 2012, and June 11, 2013 (perihelion: 24 March, 2013). We followed the evolution of the OH, NH, CN, C[SUB]3[/SUB], and C[SUB]2[/SUB] production rates computed with the Haser model as well as the evolution of the A(θ)fρ parameter as a proxy for the dust production. All five gas species display similar slopes for the heliocentric dependence. An asymmetry about perihelion is observed, the rate of brightening being steeper than the rate of fading. The chemical composition of the comet's coma changes slightly along the orbit: the relative abundance of C[SUB]2[/SUB] to CN increases with the heliocentric distance (r) below -1.4 au and decreases with r beyond 1.4 au while the C[SUB]3[/SUB]-to-CN ratio is constant during our observations. The behavior of the dust is different from that of the gas, the slope of the heliocentric dependence becoming steeper in early February, correlated to a change in the visual lightcurve slope. However, the dust color does not vary during the observations. The application of several enhancement techniques on the images revealed structures in the CN, C[SUB]3[/SUB], and C[SUB]2[/SUB] images. These features imply the existence of one or several active zone(s) on the comet nucleus. The shape of the structures is similar in these three filters and changes from a roughly hourglass shape in December and January to a corkscrew shape in February and March. The structures in the continuum filters (sampling the dust) are not correlated to those observed for the gas. During several full nights in February, we observed changes in the CN and C[SUB]2[/SUB] structures that repeated periodically because of the nucleus rotation, our derived rotational period being of 9.52 ± 0.05 h. Full Tables 2, 4, 6 are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/574/A38">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/574/A38</A> [less ▲]

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See detailDust from Comet 209P/LINEAR during its 2014 Return: Parent Body of a New Meteor Shower, the May Camelopardalids
Ishiguro, Masateru; Kuroda, Daisuke; Hanayama, Hidekazu et al

in Astrophysical Journal. Letters (2015), 798

We report a new observation of the Jupiter family comet 209P/LINEAR during its 2014 return. The comet is recognized as a dust source of a new meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. 209P/LINEAR was ... [more ▼]

We report a new observation of the Jupiter family comet 209P/LINEAR during its 2014 return. The comet is recognized as a dust source of a new meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. 209P/LINEAR was apparently inactive at a heliocentric distance r<SUB>h</SUB> = 1.6 AU and showed weak activity at r<SUB>h</SUB> <= 1.4 AU. We found an active region of <0.001% of the entire nuclear surface during the comet's dormant phase. An edge-on image suggests that particles up to 1 cm in size (with an uncertainty of factor 3-5) were ejected following a differential power-law size distribution with index q = –3.25 ± 0.10. We derived a mass-loss rate of 2-10 kg s<SUP>–1</SUP> during the active phase and a total mass of ≈5 × 10<SUP>7</SUP> kg during the 2014 return. The ejection terminal velocity of millimeter- to centimeter-sized particles was 1-4 m s<SUP>–1</SUP>, which is comparable to the escape velocity from the nucleus (1.4 m s<SUP>–1</SUP>). These results imply that such large meteoric particles marginally escaped from the highly dormant comet nucleus via the gas drag force only within a few months of the perihelion passage. [less ▲]

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See detailEvidence that Pluto's atmosphere does not collapse from occultations including the 2013 May 04 event
Olkin, C. B.; Young, L. A.; Borncamp, D. et al

in Icarus (2015), 246

Combining stellar occultation observations probing Pluto's atmosphere from 1988 to 2013, and models of energy balance between Pluto's surface and atmosphere, we find the preferred models are consistent ... [more ▼]

Combining stellar occultation observations probing Pluto's atmosphere from 1988 to 2013, and models of energy balance between Pluto's surface and atmosphere, we find the preferred models are consistent with Pluto retaining a collisional atmosphere throughout its 248-year orbit. The occultation results show an increasing atmospheric pressure with time in the current epoch, a trend present only in models with a high thermal inertia and a permanent N<SUB>2</SUB> ice cap at Pluto's north rotational pole. [less ▲]

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See detailThe TRAPPIST comet survey in 2014
Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (2014, November 01), 46

TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is a 60-cm robotic telescope that has been installed in June 2010 at the ESO La Silla Observatory [1]. Operated from Liège (Belgium) it is ... [more ▼]

TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is a 60-cm robotic telescope that has been installed in June 2010 at the ESO La Silla Observatory [1]. Operated from Liège (Belgium) it is devoted to the detection and characterisation of exoplanets and to the study of comets and other small bodies in the Solar System. A set of narrowband cometary filters designed by the NASA for the Hale-Bopp Observing Campaign [2] is permanently mounted on the telescope along with classic Johnson-Cousins filters. We describe here the hardware and the goals of the project. For relatively bright comets (V < 12) we measure several times a week the gaseous production rates (using a Haser model) and the spatial distribution of several species among which OH, NH, CN, C2 and C3 as well as ions like CO+. The dust production rates (Afrho) and color of the dust aredetermined through four dust continuum bands from the UV to the red (UC, BC, GC, RC filters). We will present the dust and gas production rates of the brightest comets observed in 2014: C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS), C/2014 E2 (Jacques), C/2013 A1 (Siding Springs) and C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden). Each of these comets have been observed at least once a week for several weeks to several months. Light curves with respect to the heliocentric distance will be presented and discussed. [1] Jehin et al., The Messenger, 145, 2-6, 2011.[2] Farnham et al., Icarus, 147, 180-204, 2000. [less ▲]

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See detailTRAPPIST monitoring of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)
Opitom, Cyrielle ULiege; Jehin, Emmanuel ULiege; Manfroid, Jean ULiege et al

in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (2014, November 01), 46

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is a long period comet discovered by Robert H McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia on January 3, 2013 at 7.2 au from the Sun. This comet will make a close encounter ... [more ▼]

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is a long period comet discovered by Robert H McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia on January 3, 2013 at 7.2 au from the Sun. This comet will make a close encounter with Mars on October 19, 2014. At this occasion the comet will be extensively observed both from Earth and from several orbiters around Mars.On September 20, 2013 when the comet was around 5 au from the Sun, we started a monitoring with the TRAPPIST robotic telescope installed at La Silla observatory [1]. A set of narrowband cometary filters designed by the NASA for the Hale-Bopp Observing Campaign [2] is permanently mounted on the telescope along with classic Johnson-Cousins B, V, Rc, and Ic filters.We observed the comet continuously at least once a week from September 20, 2013 to April 6, 2014 with broad band filters. We then recovered the comet on May 20. At this time we could detect the gas and started the observations with narrow band filters until early November, covering the close approach to Mars and the perihelion passage.We present here our first results about comet Siding Springs. From the images in the broad band filters and in the dust continuum filters we derived A(θ)fρ values [3] and studied the evolution of the comet activity with the heliocentric distance from September 20, 2013 to early November 2014. We could also detect gas since May 20, 2014. We thus derived gas production rates using a Haser model [4]. We present the evolution of gas production rates and gas production rates ratios with the heliocentric distance.Finally, we discuss the dust and gas coma morphology. [less ▲]

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