Stellar occultations enable milliarcsecond astrometry for Trans-Neptunian objects and Centaurs

F. L. Rommel, F. Braga-Ribas, J. Desmars, J. I. B. Camargo, J. L. Ortiz, B. Sicardy, R. Vieira-Martins, M. Assafin, P. Santos-Sanz, R. Duffard, E. Fernández-Valenzuela, J. Lecacheux, B. E. Morgado, G. Benedetti-Rossi, A. R. Gomes-Júnior, C. L. Pereira, D. Herald, W. Hanna, J. Bradshaw, N. MoralesJ. Brimacombe, A. Burtovoi, T. Carruthers, J. R. de Barros, M. Fiori, A. Gilmore, D. Hooper, K. Hornoch, C. Jacques, T. Janik, S. Kerr, P. Kilmartin, Jan Maarten Winkel, G. Naletto, D. Nardiello, V. Nascimbeni, J. Newman, A. Ossola, A. Pál, E. Pimentel, P. Pravec, S. Sposetti, A. Stechina, R. Szákats, Y. Ueno, L. Zampieri, J. Broughton, J. B. Dunham, D. W. Dunham, D. Gault, T. Hayamizu, K. Hosoi, E. Jehin, R. Jones, K. Kitazaki, R. Komžík, A. Marciniak, A. Maury, H. Mikuž, P. Nosworthy, J. Fábrega Polleri, S. Rahvar, R. Sfair, P. B. Siqueira, C. Snodgrass, P. Sogorb, H. Tomioka, J. Tregloan-Reed, O. C. Winter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) and Centaurs are remnants of our planetary system formation, and their physical properties have invaluable information for evolutionary theories. Stellar occultation is a ground-based method for studying these small bodies and has presented exciting results. These observations can provide precise profiles of the involved body, allowing an accurate determination of its size and shape. The goal is to show that even single-chord detections of TNOs allow us to measure their milliarcsecond astrometric positions in the reference frame of the Gaia second data release (DR2). Accurated ephemerides can then be generated, allowing predictions of stellar occultations with much higher reliability. We analyzed data from stellar occultations to obtain astrometric positions of the involved bodies. The events published before the Gaia era were updated so that the Gaia DR2 catalog is the reference. Previously determined sizes were used to calculate the position of the object center and its corresponding error with respect to the detected chord and the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) propagated Gaia DR2 star position. We derive 37 precise astrometric positions for 19 TNOs and 4 Centaurs. Twenty-one of these events are presented here for the first time. Although about 68\% of our results are based on single-chord detection, most have intrinsic precision at the submilliarcsecond level. Lower limits on the diameter and shape constraints for a few bodies are also presented as valuable byproducts. Using the Gaia DR2 catalog, we show that even a single detection of a stellar occultation allows improving the object ephemeris significantly, which in turn enables predicting a future stellar occultation with high accuracy. Observational campaigns can be efficiently organized with this help, and may provide a full physical characterization of the involved object.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA40
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • astro-ph.EP
  • astro-ph.IM


Dive into the research topics of 'Stellar occultations enable milliarcsecond astrometry for Trans-Neptunian objects and Centaurs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this