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Large Changes in Pluto’s Atmosphere Revealed by Stellar Occultations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 March 2016

Bruno Sicardy
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Thomas Widemann
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Emmanuel Lellouch
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Françoise Roques
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Eric Gendron
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Christian Veillet
Affiliation:
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Wairnea, Hawaii 96743, USA
Jean-Charles Cuillandre
Affiliation:
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Wairnea, Hawaii 96743, USA
François Colas
Affiliation:
Observatoire de Paris, IMCCE, 77 Bid Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris, France
Wolfgang Beisker
Affiliation:
International Occultation Timing Association, European Section, 30459 Hannover, Germany
Mike Kretlow
Affiliation:
International Occultation Timing Association, European Section, 30459 Hannover, Germany
Olivier R. Hainaut
Affiliation:
European Southern Observatory, Alsonso de Cordova, 3107, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
Chris Lidman
Affiliation:
European Southern Observatory, Alsonso de Cordova, 3107, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile

Abstract

Pluto’s tenuous nitrogen atmosphere was detected by stellar occultations in 1985 and 1988. This atmosphere is poorly known, however, due to the rarity of these events. We report here the first Pluto occultations observed since 1988, on 20 July and 21 August 2002. Our analysis reveals drastic changes undergone by the atmosphere since 1988, namely a two-fold pressure increase, the probable effect of seasonal changes on Pluto over this fourteen year interval.

Type
II. Special Scientific Sessions
Copyright
Copyright © Astronomical Society of Pacific 2005

References

Elliot, J.L. et al. 2003, Nature 424, 165 Google Scholar
Hansen, C.J., & Paige, D.A. 1996, Icarus, 120, 247 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sicardy, B. et al, 2003, Nature, 424, 168 Google Scholar
Yelle, R.V., & Elliot, J.L. 1997, In Pluto and Charon, ed. Stern, S.A. & Tholen, D.J. (University of Arizona Press, 1997), 347 Google Scholar
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