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Division I provides a focus for astronomers studying a wide range of problems related to fundamental physical phenomena such as time, the inertial reference frame, positions and proper motions of celestial objects and precise dynamical computation of the motions of bodies in stellar or planetary systems in the Universe.
JPL planetary ephemeris development has been very active assimilating measurements from current planetary missions and supporting future missions. The NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission with launch in 2009 requires knowledge of the Earth and Mars ephemerides with 30m accuracy. By comparison, the accuracy of the Mars ephemeris in the widely used DE405 ephemeris was about 3 km. Meeting the MSL needs requires an ongoing program of range and very-long baseline interferometry measurements of Mars orbiting spacecraft. The JPL ephemeris DE421 was released three months before the landing of the Phoenix mission on Mars, and has met the 300m requirement. Continued measurements are planned to support the MSL landing.
The interplay of the disc and the dark halo resonances governs the secular evolution of disc galaxies, and the properties of their bar component (Athanassoula 2002). Martinez-Valpuesta et al. (2006), Ceverino & Klypin (2007) and Athanassoula (2007b) confirm and extend this work. Ceverino & Klypin (2007) calculate the orbital frequencies of each particle over the whole temporal evolution, and thus find much broader frequency peaks. In all cases, it is the same resonances that come into play, and, as in Athanassoula 2002, the angular momentum is emitted by near-resonant material in the bar region and absorbed by near-resonant material in the halo and the outer disc. The relative importance of each resonance, however, varies from one case to another. Furthermore, the second and third of the above mentioned studies examine the location of resonant orbits in configuration space and find compatible results.
A continuation of this WG was voted for at the IAU GA 2006 in Prague. The International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF) is defined by the positions of 212 distant quasars at radio wavelengths. The primary, optical reference frame is the Hipparcos Celestial Reference Frame (HCRF), which is the Hipparcos Catalog without astrometric ‘problem’ stars (in: H. Rickman (ed.) 2001, Proceedings IAU XXIV General Assembly, Transactions IAU XXIVB (San Francisco: ASP), Resolution B1.2). The Tycho-2 catalog with its 2.5 million brightest stars forms the first step in the densification of the optical reference frame. However, the limiting magnitude of about V = 12 of the Tycho-2 catalog is not sufficient for most applications in astronomy and the goal of this IAU Working Group is to further extend the grid of highly accurate positions and motions toward more and fainter stars. The web site of this WG is at <ad.usno.navy.mil/dens_wg/>.
The Commission supports and coordinates scientific investigations in the Earth rotation and related reference frames. Several changes had been introduced to the structure of Commission 19 since the IAU XXVI General Assembly in Prague, 2006. The Organizing Committee of Commission 19 has been substantially reduced. It consists now of six ex-officio members, the Commission president, vice-president, past president and representatives from the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry (IVS), and five members at-large who are nominated by the OC, selected by the Commission members and elected by the IAU GA for a maximum of two terms. The modified terms of reference of Commission 19, the list of members and other details can be found at the Commission website <iau-comm19.cbk.waw.pl/>.
The realization and dissemination of the international time scales is the responsibility of the section on Time, Frequency and Gravimetry of the BIPM. Commission 31 supports and coordinates investigations associated with Time definitions, realizations, astronomical data relevant to atomic timekeeping, such as pulsar data. The major developments achieved during the period 2005-2008 in that domain are reported here.
The tremendous progress in technology which we have witnessed during the last 30 years has led to enormous improvements of observational accuracy in all disciplines of fundamental astronomy. Relativity has been becoming increasingly important for modeling and interpretation of high accuracy astronomical observations during at least these 30 years. It is clear that for current accuracy requirements astronomical problems have to be formulated within the framework of General Relativity Theory. Many high-precision astronomical techniques have already required the application of relativistic effects, which are several orders of magnitude larger than the technical accuracy of observations. In order to interpret the results of such observations, one has to construct involved relativistic models. Many current and planned observational projects can not achieve their goals if relativity is not taken into account properly. The future projects will require the introduction of higher-order relativistic effects. To make the relativistic models consistent with each other for different observational techniques, to formulate them in the simplest possible way for a given accuracy, and to formulate them in a language understandable for astronomers and engineers who have little knowledge of relativity are the challenges of a multidisciplinary research field called Applied Relativity.
The IAU Working Group (WG) on Numerical Standards for Fundamental Astronomy has been tasked with updating the IAU Current Best Estimates (CBEs), conforming with the IAU Resolutions, IERS Conventions and Système International d'Unités whenever possible. As part of its effort to achieve this, the WG is working in close cooperation with IAU Commissions 4 and 52, the IERS, and the BIPM Consultative Committee for Units.
At the IAU XXVI General Assembly in 2006, the Division I decided to create the Working Group on Astrometry by Small Ground-Based Telescopes (WG-ASGBT). Its scientic goals are to foster the follow-up of small bodies detected by the large surveys including the NEOs; to set-up a dedicated observation network for the follow-up of objects which will be detected by Gaia; to contribute to the observation campaigns of the mutual events of natural satellites, stellar occultations, and binary asteroids; and to encourage teaching astrometry for the next generation. The present report gives the main activities carried out in these areas with small telescopes (diameter less than 2m).
The IAU/IAG Working Group on Cartographic Coordinates & Rotational Elements published its (2006) triennial report containing current recommendations for models for solar system bodies (Seidelmann et al. 2007). P. Kenneth Seidelmann stepped down as chairperson and B. A. Archinal was elected chairperson at the Working Group business meeting that took place at the IAU XXVI General Assembly in Prague in 2006.
The main goal of the Working Group was to gather astrometric observations made during the triennum as well as old observations not yet published in the data base. The WG encouraged the making of new observations. A Spring School was organized in China in order to teach the observational techniques of natural satellites to students and young astronomers. New theoretical models of the motion of the satellites and fit of the current models to new observations were used in order to make ephemerides of all the planetary satellites with tools useful for observations such as configurations. These ephemerides named MULTISAT are available at <www.imcce.fr/sat> or at <lnfm1.sai.msu.ru/neb/nss/nssephme.htm>.
Division II of the IAU provides a forum for astronomers and astrophysicists studying a wide range of phenomena related to the structure, radiation and activity of the Sun, and its interaction with the Earth and the rest of the solar system. Division II encompasses three Commissions, 10, 12 and 49, and four Working Groups.
Commission 10 deals with solar activity in all of its forms, ranging from the smallest nanoflares to the largest coronal mass ejections. This report reviews scientific progress over the roughly two-year period ending in the middle of 2008. This has been an exciting time in solar physics, highlighted by the launches of the Hinode and STEREO missions late in 2006. The report is reasonably comprehensive, though it is far from exhaustive. Limited space prevents the inclusion of many significant results. The report is divided into the following sections: Photosphere and chromosphere; Transition region; Corona and coronal heating; Coronal jets; flares; Coronal mass ejection initiation; Global coronal waves and shocks; Coronal dimming; The link between low coronal CME signatures and magnetic clouds; Coronal mass ejections in the heliosphere; and Coronal mass ejections and space weather. Primary authorship is indicated at the beginning of each section.
Commission 12 encompasses investigations on the internal structure and dynamics of the Sun, mostly accessible through the techniques of local and global helioseismology, the quiet solar atmosphere, solar radiation and its variability, and the nature of relatively stable magnetic structures like sunspots, faculae and the magnetic network. A revision of the progress made in these fields is presented. For some specific topics, the review has counted with the help of experts outside the Commission Organizing Committee that are leading and/or have recently presented relevant works in the respective fields. In this cases the contributor's name is given in parenthesis.
Commission 49 covers research on the solar wind, shocks and particle acceleration, both transient and steady-state, e.g., corotating, structures within the heliosphere, and the termination shock and boundary of the heliosphere.
The International Heliophysical Year (IHY) is an international program of scientific research and collaboration to understand the external drivers of the space environment and climate. Its activities were centered on the year 2008, the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year. The IHY involves utilizing the existing assets from space and ground as a distributed Great Observatory and the deployment of new instrumentation, new observations from the ground and in space, and public and student education. The IHY officially was launched in February 2007 with an opening ceremony and workshop in Vienna. Many IHY activities, both scientific and educational, have occurred since then. In practice, these activities have taken place over the last several years, and the programs that have been established through the IHY will continue into the future as ‘legacies’ of the IHY.
The Commission 15 report was prepared primarily by the chairpersons of the two working groups: T. Yamamoto of the Comet Working Group and R. A. Gil-Hutton of the Minor Planet Working Group. In particular, the Comet section was produced by T. Yamamoto with the assistance of D. Bockelée-Morvan, H. Kawakita, and D. Prialnik, while the Minor Planet section was produced by R. A. Gil-Hutton with the assistance of A. Cellino, A. W. Harris (DLR), R. Jedicke, A.-C. Levasseur-Regourd, R. M. Schulz, T. B. Spahr, and P. Vernazza. W. F. Huebner was responsible for the Introduction. The final editing and merging of the various sections and subsections of the report was carried out by the Commission Secretary, D. C. Boice.
This report is divided in four parts: the first part summarizes the activities of the Commission between September 2006 and June 2008; the second part reports on recent advances in the physical study of planets and satellites. However, instead of attempting to cover the large body of new knowledge gathered over the last three years, we have chosen to highlight just a few exciting results – on Mercury, the exploration of unchartered terrains with ground-based imaging and a new measurement of its libration parameters, some spectacular findings from the Cassini mission inside the Saturnian system, and the results of methane-band spectrophotometric monitoring of Saturn over the last 13 years; the third part summarizes future plans now being drawn by the various space agencies for the exploration of planets and satellites in the solar system; the last part tries to project the activities of the Commission over the period June 2008–August 2009, and to express a few thoughts concerning the future developments in the field, and the role of the Commission therein.