Kuiper Belt Occultation Predictions
Here we present observations of seven large Kuiper Belt objects. From these observations, we extract a point source catalog with ∼0.01″ precision, and astrometry of our target Kuiper Belt objects with 0.04–0.08″ precision within that catalog. We have developed a new technique to predict the future occurrence of stellar occultations by Kuiper Belt objects. The technique makes use of a maximum likelihood approach which determines the best-fit adjustment to cataloged orbital elements of an object. Using simulations of a theoretical object, we discuss the merits and weaknesses of this technique compared to the commonly adopted ephemeris offset approach. We demonstrate that both methods suffer from separate weaknesses, and thus together provide a fair assessment of the true uncertainty in a particular prediction. We present occultation predictions made by both methods for the seven tracked objects, with dates as late as 2015. Finally, we discuss observations of three separate close passages of Quaoar to field stars, which reveal the accuracy of the element adjustment approach, and which also demonstrate the necessity of considering the uncertainty in stellar position when assessing potential occultations.
Additional Information© 2013 The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2013 March 18; accepted 2013 June 19; published 2013 July 23. The authors thank the Director of the Gemini telescopes for time awarded under the director's discretion. This work is based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/IRFU, at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii. This work is also based in part on data products produced at Terapix available at the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre as part of the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey, a collaborative project of NRC and CNRS Based on observations obtained at the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), the National Research Council (Canada), CONICYT (Chile), the Australian Research Council (Australia), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Brazil) and Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (Argentina). Federica B. Bianco is supported at NYU by a James Arthur fellowship.
Published - 672001.pdf
Submitted - 1306.6626v1.pdf