Radio Interferometric Observation of an Asteroid Occultation

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Julkaisun nimi: Radio Interferometric Observation of an Asteroid Occultation
Tekijä: Harju, Jorma; Lehtinen, Kimmo; Romney, Jonathan; Petrov, Leonid; Granvik, Mikael; Muinonen, Karri; Bach, Uwe; Poutanen, Markku
ISSN: 0004-6256
Tiivistelmä: The occultation of the radio galaxy 0141+268 by the asteroid (372) Palma on 2017 May 15 was observed using six antennas of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The shadow of Palma crossed the VLBA station at Brewster, Washington. Owing to the wavelength used, and the size and the distance of the asteroid, a diffraction pattern in the Fraunhofer regime was observed. The measurement retrieves both the amplitude and the phase of the diffracted electromagnetic wave. This is the first astronomical measurement of the phase shift caused by diffraction. The maximum phase shift is sensitive to the effective diameter of the asteroid. The bright spot at the shadow's center, the so called Arago-Poisson spot, is clearly detected in the amplitude time-series, and its strength is a good indicator of the closest angular distance between the center of the asteroid and the radio source. A sample of random shapes constructed using a Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm suggests that the silhouette of Palma deviates from a perfect circle by 26 +/- 13%. The best-fitting random shapes resemble each other, and we suggest their average approximates the shape of the silhouette at the time of the occultation. The effective diameter obtained for Palma, 192.1 +/- 4.8 km, is in excellent agreement with recent estimates from thermal modeling of mid-infrared photometry. Finally, our computations show that because of the high positional accuracy, a single radio interferometric occultation measurement can reduce the long-term ephemeris uncertainty by an order of magnitude.
Päiväys: 2018
Asiasanat (ysa): pikkuplaneetat

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