Predicting stellar occultations for transneptunian objects

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Title: Predicting stellar occultations for transneptunian objects
Author: Seppälä, Minttu
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Tähtitiede
Abstract: Observing stellar occultations is a great way to obtain information, such as astrometry and angular diameter, on objects that would be too faint to observe directly. Observing stellar occultations by minor bodies has become more common in recent years with the help of high-precision astrometry for around one billion stars from the Gaia Data Release 2. The Outer Solar System Origins Survey has provided high-precision positions for over eight-hundred transneptunian objects (TNOs). The goal of this survey was to study orbital distributions of TNOs to learn more about the early history of the Solar System. A secondary science goal was to allow occultation predictions to be made for the identified TNOs. A new statistical method was created to make occultation predictions. The goal was to make occultation predictions for the TNOs identified in the Outer Solar System Origins Survey. The method was tested on 2014 MU69 and it successfully found the three existing occultation events that occurred in 2017. The method was then applied to two TNOs observed in the Outer Solar System Origins Survey. The uncertainty limits for the shadow position on the Earth were larger than in the three existing predictions, but the overall shadow positions were very similar. The method was able to find a dozen of potential occultations for the two TNOs. However, the uncertainty limits for the shadow positions were very large, around the size of the Earth.
Subject: asteroid
transneptunian object
occultation predictions

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