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[en] Pluto and its main satellite, Charon, occulted the same star on 2008 June 22. This event was observed from Australia and La Reunion Island, providing the east and north Charon Plutocentric offset in the sky plane (J2000): X= + 12,070.5 ± 4 km (+ 546.2 ± 0.2 mas), Y= + 4,576.3 ± 24 km (+ 207.1 ± 1.1 mas) at 19:20:33.82 UT on Earth, corresponding to JD 2454640.129964 at Pluto. This yields Charon's true longitude L= 153.483 ± 0.0071 in the satellite orbital plane (counted from the ascending node on J2000 mean equator) and orbital radius r= 19,564 ± 14 km at that time. We compare this position to that predicted by (1) the orbital solution of Tholen and Buie (the 'TB97' solution), (2) the PLU017 Charon ephemeris, and (3) the solution of Tholen et al. (the 'T08' solution). We conclude that (1) our result rules out solution TB97, (2) our position agrees with PLU017, with differences of ΔL= + 0.073 ± 0.0071 in longitude, and Δr= + 0.6 ± 14 km in radius, and (3) while the difference with the T08 ephemeris amounts to only ΔL= 0.033 ± 0.0071 in longitude, it exhibits a significant radial discrepancy of Δr= 61.3 ± 14 km. We discuss this difference in terms of a possible image scale relative error of 3.35 x 10-3in the 2002-2003 Hubble Space Telescope images upon which the T08 solution is mostly based. Rescaling the T08 Charon semi-major axis, a = 19, 570.45 km, to the TB97 value, a = 19636 km, all other orbital elements remaining the same ('T08/TB97' solution), we reconcile our position with the re-scaled solution by better than 12 km (or 0.55 mas) for Charon's position in its orbital plane, thus making T08/TB97 our preferred solution.
[en] The March 3, 1987 occultation of Charon by Pluto was observed spectroscopically from 5400 to 10,200 A at a resolution of 12 A. The midpoint of the event occurred at 11:06 UT; the depth of the event at 6800 A was 0.162 mag. The spectrum of Charon is completely featureless and almost perfectly flat; the red slope and the CH4 absorption features can be attributed solely to Pluto. 17 references
[en] Spectra of Pluto have been obtained on six nights during February 1979 by the use of the Cassegrain Digicon spectrograph on the 2.1-m Struve reflector and the IDS spectrograph on the 2.7-m reflector of McDonald Observatory. These spectra, with nominal resolution of 6-7 A, have been reduced to relative fluxes. Relative albedos were then calculated using the solar irradiances of Arvesen et al. (1969). The spectra taken in the blue show no indication of the upturn in albedo at wavelengths less than 3800 A previously reported by Fix, et al. (1970). The lack of a UV upturn cannot be interpreted in terms of a Rayleigh scattering atmosphere unless the albedo of the underlying surface is known. From the lack of methane absorption at the wavelength of the 6190- or 7270-A methane bands, an upper limit of 1-3 m-am of gaseous CH4 is derived. The albedo curve has a constant slope between 3500 and 7300 A. The only other solar system body which has this feature is an S-type asteroid
[en] Highly resolved CCD images of Pluto and Charon near maximum separation are measured with point spread function fitting techniques to determine independent magnitudes and an accurate separation for Pluto and Charon. A measured separation of 0.923 + or - 0.005 arcsec at a position angle of 173.3 + or - 0.3 deg on June 18, 1987 UT produced a value of 19558.0 + or - 153.0 km for the radius of Charon's orbit. An apparent B magnitude of 14.877 + or - 0.009 and (B-I) color of 1.770 + or - 0.015 are determined for Pluto, while Charon is fainter with B = 18.826 + or - 0.011 and slightly bluer with (B-I) = 1.632 + or - 0.018. 18 references
[en] We describe comprehensive calculations of the formation of icy planets and debris disks at 30-150 AU around 1-3 M sun stars. Disks composed of large, strong planetesimals produce more massive planets than disks composed of small, weak planetesimals. The maximum radius of icy planets ranges from ∼1500 km to 11,500 km. The formation rate of 1000 km objects-Plutos-is a useful proxy for the efficiency of icy planet formation. Plutos form more efficiently in massive disks, in disks with small planetesimals, and in disks with a range of planetesimal sizes. Although Plutos form throughout massive disks, Pluto production is usually concentrated in the inner disk. Despite the large number of Plutos produced in many calculations, icy planet formation is inefficient. At the end of the main sequence lifetime of the central star, Plutos contain less than 10% of the initial mass in solid material. This conclusion is independent of the initial mass in the disk or the properties of the planetesimals. Debris disk formation coincides with the formation of planetary systems containing Plutos. As Plutos form, they stir leftover planetesimals to large velocities. A cascade of collisions then grinds the leftovers to dust, forming an observable debris disk. In disks with small (∼<1-10 km) planetesimals, collisional cascades produce luminous debris disks with maximum luminosity ∼10-2 times the stellar luminosity. Disks with larger planetesimals produce debris disks with maximum luminosity ∼5 x 10-4 (10 km) to 5 x 10-5 (100 km) times the stellar luminosity. Following peak luminosity, the evolution of the debris disk emission is roughly a power law, f ∝ t -n with n∼ 0.6-0.8. Observations of debris disks around A-type and G-type stars strongly favor models with small planetesimals. In these models, our predictions for the time evolution and detection frequency of debris disks agree with published observations. We suggest several critical observations that can test key features of our calculations.
[en] We present new light-curve measurements of Pluto and Charon taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys High-resolution Camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. The observations were collected from 2002 June to 2003 June at 12 distinct sub-Earth longitudes over a range of solar phase angle 0.036-1.074-a larger range than previously measured. The new measurements of Pluto show that the light-curve amplitude has decreased since the mutual event season in the late 1980s. We also show that the average brightness has increased in the F555W (Johnson V equivalent) passband while the brightness has decreased in the F435W (Johnson B equivalent) passband. These data thus indicate a substantial reddening of the reflected light from Pluto. We find a weighted mean (B - V) = 0.9540 ± 0.0010 that is considerably higher than the long-standing value of (B - V) = 0.868 ± 0.003 most recently measured in 1992-1993. This change in color cannot be explained by the evolving viewing geometry and provides the strongest evidence to date for temporal changes on the surface of Pluto that are expected to be linked to volatile transport processes. We also report on the discovery of a new rotational modulation of Pluto's hemispherical color that ranges from 0.92 to 0.98 with the least red color at the longitude of maximum light and most red at minimum light. The phase coefficient of Pluto is nearly the same as measured in 1992-1993 with a value of β B = 0.0392 ± 0.0064 and β V = 0.0355 ± 0.0045 mag deg-1 for the F435W and F555W data, respectively. The Pluto phase curve is still very close to linear but a small but significant nonlinearity is seen in the data. In contrast, the light curve of Charon is essentially the same as in 1992/1993, albeit with much less noise. We confirm that Charon's Pluto-facing hemisphere is 8% brighter than the hemisphere facing away from Pluto. The color of Charon is independent of longitude and has a mean weighted value of (B - V) = 0.7315 ± 0.0013. The phase curve for Charon is now shown to be strongly nonlinear and wavelength dependent. We present results for both Pluto and Charon that better constrain the single-particle scattering parameters from the Hapke scattering theory.
[en] Observations of the occultation of an obscure 12th-magnitude star in eastern Virgo by Pluto on June 9, 1988 are discussed. The occultation was observed by astronomers aboard NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory flying over the Pacific. The prediction of the occultation and the results of the observations are examined. The study demonstrated that Pluto has a thin atmosphere and that its diameter is about two-thirds that of the moon