Alves, M.E.D.S., Tinto, M., 2011, "Pulsar timing sensitivities to gravitational waves from relativistic metric theories of gravity," Physical Review D, 83, 123529.


Pulsar timing experiments aimed at the detection of gravitational radiation have been performed for decades now. With the forthcoming construction of large arrays capable of tracking multiple millisecond pulsars, it is very likely we will be able to make the first detection of gravitational radiation in the nano-Hertz band, and test Einstein’s theory of relativity by measuring the polarization components of the detected signals. Since a gravitational wave predicted by the most general relativistic metric theory of gravity accounts for six polarization modes (the usual two Einstein’s tensor polarizations as well as two vector and two scalar wave components), we have estimated the single-antenna sensitivities to these six polarizations. We find pulsar timing experiments to be significantly more sensitive, over their entire observational frequency band (≈10-9–10-6Hz), to scalar-longitudinal and vector waves than to scalar-transverse and tensor waves. At 10-7Hz and with pulsars at a distance of 1 kpc, for instance, we estimate an average sensitivity to scalar-longitudinal waves that is more than two orders of magnitude better than the sensitivity to tensor waves. Our results imply that a direct detection of gravitational radiation by pulsar timing will result into a test of the theory of general relativity that is more stringent than that based on monitoring the decay of the orbital period of a binary system.


Baland, R.-M., van Hoolst, T., Yseboodt, M., Karatekin, Ö., 2011, "Titan's obliquity as evidence of a subsurface ocean?," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 530, 141.


On the basis of gravity and radar observations with the Cassini spacecraft, the moment of inertia of Titan and the orientation of Titan's rotation axis have been estimated in recent studies. According to the observed orientation, Titan is close to the Cassini state. However, the observed obliquity is inconsistent with the estimate of the moment of inertia for an entirely solid Titan occupying the Cassini state. We propose a new Cassini state model for Titan in which we assume the presence of a liquid water ocean beneath an ice shell and consider the gravitational and pressure torques arising between the different layers of the satellite. With the new model, we find a closer agreement between the moment of inertia and the rotation state than for the solid case, strengthening the possibility that Titan has a subsurface ocean.


Barker, A.J., 2011, "Three-dimensional simulations of internal wave breaking and the fate of planets around solar-type stars," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 1365-1378.


We study the fate of internal gravity waves approaching the centre of an initially non-rotating solar-type star, by performing three-dimensional numerical simulations using a Boussinesq-type model. These waves are excited at the top of the radiation zone by the tidal forcing of a short-period planet on a circular, coplanar orbit. This extends previous work done in two dimensions by Barker & Ogilvie. We first derive a linear wave solution, which is not exact in three dimensions; however, the reflection of ingoing waves from the centre is close to perfect for moderate amplitude waves. Waves with sufficient amplitude to cause isentropic overturning break, and deposit their angular momentum near the centre. This forms a critical layer, at which the angular velocity of the flow matches the orbital angular frequency of the planet. This efficiently absorbs ingoing waves, and spins up the star from the inside out, while the planet spirals into the star.

We also perform numerical integrations to determine the linearized adiabatic tidal response throughout the star, in a wide range of solar-type stellar models with masses in the range 0.5 ≤m/Msun≤ 1.1, throughout their main-sequence lifetimes. The aim is to study the influence of the launching region for these waves at the top of the radiation zone in more detail, and to determine the accuracy of a semi-analytic approximation for the tidal torque on the star, which was derived under the assumption that all ingoing wave angular momentum is absorbed in a critical layer.

The main conclusion of this work is that this non-linear mechanism of tidal dissipation could provide an explanation for the survival of all short-period extrasolar planets observed around FGK stars, while it predicts the destruction of more massive planets. This work provides further support for the model outlined in a previous paper by Barker & Ogilvie, and makes predictions that will be tested by ongoing observational studies, such as WASP and Kepler.


Barker, A.J., Ogilvie, G.I., 2011, "Stability analysis of a tidally excited internal gravity wave near the centre of a solar-type star," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1181.


We perform a stability analysis of a tidally excited non-linear internal gravity wave near the centre of a solar-type star in two-dimensional cylindrical geometry. The motivation is to understand the tidal interaction between short-period planets and their slowly rotating solar-type host stars, which involves the launching of internal gravity waves at the top of the radiation zone that propagate towards the centre of the star. Studying the instabilities of these waves near the centre, where non-linearities are most important, is essential, since it may have implications for the survival of short-period planets orbiting solar-type stars. When these waves have sufficient amplitude to overturn the stratification, they break and form a critical layer, which efficiently absorbs subsequent ingoing wave angular momentum, and can result in the planet spiralling into the star. However, in previous simulations the waves have not been observed to undergo instability for smaller amplitudes. Here we perform a stability analysis of a non-linear standing internal gravity wave in the central regions of a solar-type star. This work has two aims: to determine any instabilities that set in for small-amplitude waves, and to further understand the breaking process for large-amplitude waves that overturn the stratification. Our results are compared with the stability of a plane internal gravity wave in a uniform stratification, and with previous work by Kumar & Goodman on a similar problem to our own. Our main result is that the waves undergo parametric instabilities for any amplitude (in the absence of viscosity and thermal conduction). However, because the non-linearity is spatially localized in the innermost wavelengths, the growth rates of these instabilities tend to be sufficiently small that they do not result in astrophysically important tidal dissipation. Indeed, we estimate that the modified tidal quality factors of the star that result are Q'<SUB>?</SUB>? 10<SUP>7</SUP>, and possibly much greater, which implies that the resulting dissipation is at least two orders of magnitude weaker than that which results from critical-layer absorption. These results support our explanation for the survival of all currently observed short-period planets around solar-type main-sequence stars: that planets unable to cause wave breaking at the centre of their host stars are likely to survive against tidal decay. This hypothesis will be tested by ongoing and future observations of transiting planets, such as Wide Area Search for Planets and Kepler.


Bear, E., Soker, N., Harpaz, A., 2011, "Possible Implications of the Planet Orbiting the Red Horizontal Branch Star HIP 13044," The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 733, L44.


We propose a scenario to account for the surprising orbital properties of the planet orbiting the metal-poor red horizontal branch star HIP 13044. The orbital period of 16.2 days implies that the planet went through a common envelope phase inside the red giant branch (RGB) stellar progenitor of HIP 13044. The present properties of the star imply that it maintained a substantial envelope mass of 0.3 M sun, raising the question of how the planet survived the common envelope before the envelope itself was lost? If such a planet enters the envelope of an RGB star, it is expected to spiral-in to the very inner region within <~ 100 yr, and be evaporated or destroyed by the core. We speculate that the planet was engulfed by the star as a result of the core helium flash that caused this metal-poor star to swell by a factor of ~3-4. The evolution following the core helium flash is very rapid, and some of the envelope is lost due to the interaction with the planet, and the rest of the envelope shrinks within about a hundred years. This is about equal to the spiraling-in time, and the planet survived.


Béky, B., Bakos, G.Á., Hartman, J., Torres, G., Latham, D.W., Jordán, A., Arriagada, P., Bayliss, D., Kiss, L.L., Kovács, G., Quinn, S.N., Marcy, G.W., Howard, A.W., Fischer, D.A., Johnson, J.A., Esquerdo, G.A., Noyes, R.W., Buchhave, L.A., Sasselov, D.D., Stefanik, R.P., Perumpilly, G., Lázár, J., Papp, I., Sári, P., 2011, "HAT-P-27b: A Hot Jupiter Transiting a G Star on a 3 Day Orbit," The Astrophysical Journal, 734, 109.


We report the discovery of HAT-P-27b, an exoplanet transiting the moderately bright G8 dwarf star GSC 0333-00351 (V = 12.214). The orbital period is 3.039586 ± 0.000012 days, the reference epoch of transit is 2455186.01879 ± 0.00054 (BJD), and the transit duration is 0.0705 ± 0.0019 days. The host star with its effective temperature 5300 ± 90 K is somewhat cooler than the Sun and is more metal-rich with a metallicity of +0.29 ± 0.10. Its mass is 0.94 ± 0.04 M sun and radius is 0.90+0.05 - 0.04 R sun. For the planetary companion we determine a mass of 0.660 ± 0.033 M J and radius of 1.038+0.077 - 0.058 R J. For the 30 known transiting exoplanets between 0.3 M J and 0.8 M J, a negative correlation between host star metallicity and planetary radius and an additional dependence of planetary radius on equilibrium temperature are confirmed at a high level of statistical significance.


Benisty, M., Renard, S., Natta, A., Berger, J.P., Massi, F., Malbet, F., Garcia, P.J.V., Isella, A., Mérand, A., Monin, J.L., Testi, L., Thiébaut, E., Vannier, M., Weigelt, G., 2011, "A low optical depth region in the inner disk of the Herbig Ae star HR 5999," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, 84.


Context. Circumstellar disks surrounding young stars are known to be the birthplaces of planetary systems, and the innermost astronomical unit is of particular interest. Near-infrared interferometric studies have revealed a complex morphology for the close environment surrounding Herbig Ae stars. <BR /> Aims: We present new long-baseline spectro-interferometric observations of the Herbig Ae star, HR 5999, obtained in the H and K bands with the AMBER instrument at the VLTI, and aim to produce near-infrared images at the sub-AU spatial scale.


Methods: We spatially resolve the circumstellar material and reconstruct images in the H and K bands using the MiRA algorithm. In addition, we interpret the interferometric observations using models that assume that the near-infrared excess is dominated by the emission of a circumstellar disk. We compare the images reconstructed from the VLTI measurements to images obtained using simulated model data.


Results: The K-band image reveals three main elements: a ring-like feature located at ~0.65 AU, a low surface brightness region inside 0.65 AU, and a central spot. At the maximum angular resolution of our observations (B/? ~ 1.3 mas), the ring is resolved while the central spot is only marginally resolved, preventing us from revealing the exact morphology of the circumstellar environment. We suggest that the ring traces silicate condensation, i.e., an opacity change, in a circumstellar disk around HR 5999. We build a model that includes a ring at the silicate sublimation radius and an inner disk of low surface brightness responsible for a large amount of the near-infrared continuum emission. The model successfully fits the SED, visibilities, and closure phases in the H and K bands, and provides evidence of a low surface brightness region inside the silicate sublimation radius.


Conclusions: This study provides milli-arcsecond resolution images of the environment of HR 5999 and additional evidence that in Herbig Ae stars, there is material in a low surface brightness region, probably a low optical depth region, located inside the silicate sublimation radius and of unknown nature. The possibility that the formation of such a region in a thick disk is related to disk evolution should be investigated.


Beust, H., Bonneau, D., Mourard, D., Lafrasse, S., Mella, G., Duvert, G., Chelli, A., 2011, "On the use of the Virtual Observatory to select calibrators for phase-referenced astrometry of exoplanet-host stars," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 108-115.


Phase-referenced interferometric astrometry offers the possibility to look for exoplanets around bright stars. Instruments like PRIMA (Phase-Referenced Imaging and Micro-arcsecond Astrometry) will measure the astrometric wobble of a candidate star due to an exoplanet relative to a close-by 'calibrator' star, located within the instrument's observing field (1 arcmin in the PRIMA case). Stars with already known exoplanets will constitute the first targets for this technique, as it will provide a way to further specify the characteristics of the known exoplanets, such as the inclinations. The main requirement is to have a calibrator in the vicinity of the star. We provide here a list of calibrators for all stars with known exoplanets obtained using data mining and Virtual Observatory techniques. This list is available online and revised regularly. The calibrators are found from catalogues available at Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) using the SEARCHCAL software developed at Jean-Marie Mariotti Center (JMMC). In our test case, the calibrators are found within 1 arcmin angular distance for approximately 50 per cent of the stars tested, and often closer. They are all faint objects from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) with K magnitudes between 13 and 15. A list of the most promising targets is also given.


Bhattacharyya, S., 2011, "Ways to constrain neutron star equation of state models using relativistic disc lines," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 844.


Relativistic spectral lines from the accretion disc of a neutron star low-mass X-ray binary can be modelled to infer the disc inner edge radius. A small value of this radius tentatively implies that the disc terminates either at the neutron star hard surface, or at the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO). Therefore an inferred disc inner edge radius either provides the stellar radius, or can directly constrain stellar equation of state (EoS) models using the theoretically computed ISCO radius for the space-time of a rapidly spinning neutron star. However, this procedure requires numerical computation of stellar and ISCO radii for various EoS models and neutron star configurations using an appropriate rapidly spinning stellar space-time. We have fully general relativistically calculated about 16 000 stable neutron star structures to explore and establish the above mentioned procedure, and to show that the Kerr space-time is inadequate for this purpose. Our work systematically studies the methods to constrain EoS models using relativistic disc lines, and will motivate future X-ray astronomy instruments.


Borucki, W.J., Koch, D.G., Basri, G., Batalha, N., Brown, T.M., Bryson, S.T., Caldwell, D., Christensen-Dalsgaard, J., Cochran, W.D., DeVore, E., Dunham, E.W., Gautier, T.N., III, Geary, J.C., Gilliland, R., Gould, A., Howell, S.B., Jenkins, J.M., Latham, D.W., Lissauer, J.J., Marcy, G.W., Rowe, J., Sasselov, D., Boss, A., Charbonneau, D., Ciardi, D., Doyle, L., Dupree, A.K., Ford, E.B., Fortney, J., Holman, M.J., Seager, S., Steffen, J.H., Tarter, J., Welsh, W.F., Allen, C., Buchhave, L.A., Christiansen, J.L., Clarke, B.D., Das, S., Désert, J.-M., Endl, M., Fabrycky, D., Fressin, F., Haas, M., Horch, E., Howard, A., Isaacson, H., Kjeldsen, H., Kolodziejczak, J., Kulesa, C., Li, J., Lucas, P.W., Machalek, P., McCarthy, D., MacQueen, P., Meibom, S., Miquel, T., Prsa, A., Quinn, S.N., Quintana, E.V., Ragozzine, D., Sherry, W., Shporer, A., Tenenbaum, P., Torres, G., Twicken, J.D., Van Cleve, J., Walkowicz, L., Witteborn, F.C., Still, M., 2011, "Characteristics of Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler. II. Analysis of the First Four Months of Data," The Astrophysical Journal, 736, 19.


On 2011 February 1 the Kepler mission released data for 156,453 stars observed from the beginning of the science observations on 2009 May 2 through September 16. There are 1235 planetary candidates with transit-like signatures detected in this period. These are associated with 997 host stars. Distributions of the characteristics of the planetary candidates are separated into five class sizes: 68 candidates of approximately Earth-size (R p < 1.25 R ), 288 super-Earth-size (1.25 R  <= R p < 2 R ), 662 Neptune-size (2 R  <= R p< 6 R ), 165 Jupiter-size (6 R  <= R p < 15 R ), and 19 up to twice the size of Jupiter (15 R  <= R p < 22 R ). In the temperature range appropriate for the habitable zone, 54 candidates are found with sizes ranging from Earth-size to larger than that of Jupiter. Six are less than twice the size of the Earth. Over 74% of the planetary candidates are smaller than Neptune. The observed number versus size distribution of planetary candidates increases to a peak at two to three times the Earth-size and then declines inversely proportional to the area of the candidate. Our current best estimates of the intrinsic frequencies of planetary candidates, after correcting for geometric and sensitivity biases, are 5% for Earth-size candidates, 8% for super-Earth-size candidates, 18% for Neptune-size candidates, 2% for Jupiter-size candidates, and 0.1% for very large candidates; a total of 0.34 candidates per star. Multi-candidate, transiting systems are frequent; 17% of the host stars have multi-candidate systems, and 34% of all the candidates are part of multi-candidate systems..


Bromley, B.C., Kenyon, S.J., 2011, "Migration of Planets Embedded in a Circumstellar Disk," The Astrophysical Journal, 735, 29.


Planetary migration poses a serious challenge to theories of planet formation. In gaseous and planetesimal disks, migration can remove planets as quickly as they form. To explore migration in a planetesimal disk, we combine analytic and numerical approaches. After deriving general analytic migration rates for isolated planets, we use N-body simulations to confirm these results for fast and slow migration modes. Migration rates scale as m -1(for massive planets) and (1 + (e H/3)3)-1, where m is the mass of a planet and e H is the eccentricity of the background planetesimals in Hill units. When multiple planets stir the disk, our simulations yield the new result that large-scale migration ceases. Thus, growing planets do not migrate through planetesimal disks. To extend these results to migration in gaseous disks, we compare physical interactions and rates. Although migration through a gaseous disk is an important issue for the formation of gas giants, we conclude that migration has little impact on the formation of terrestrial planets.


Brown, D.J.A., Collier Cameron, A., Hall, C., Hebb, L., Smalley, B., 2011, "Are falling planets spinning up their host stars?," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 415, 605-618.


We investigate the effects of tidal interactions on the planetary orbits and stellar spin rates of the WASP-18 and WASP-19 planetary systems using a forward integration scheme. By fitting the resulting evolutionary tracks to the observed eccentricity, semimajor axis and stellar rotation rate, and to the stellar age derived from isochronal fitting, we are able to place constraints on the stellar and planetary reduced tidal quality factors, Q's and Q'p. We find that for WASP-18, log (Q's) = 8.21+0.90-0.52 and log (Q'p) = 7.77+1.54-1.25, implying a system age of 0.579+0.305-0.250 Gyr. For WASP-19 we obtain values of log (Q's) = 6.47+2.19-0.95 and log (Q'p) = 6.75+1.86-1.77, suggesting a system age of 1.60+2.84-0.79 Gyr and a remaining lifetime of 0.0067+1.1073-0.0061 Gyr. We investigate a range of evolutionary histories consistent with these results and the observed parameters for both systems, and find that the majority imply that the stars have been spun up through tidal interactions as the planets spiral towards their Roche limits. We examine a variety of evidence for WASP-19 A's age, both for the value above and for a younger age consistent with gyrochronology, and conclude that the older estimate is more likely to be correct. This suggests that WASP-19 b might be in the final stages of the spiral-in process, although we are unable to rule out the possibility that it has a substantial remaining lifetime.


Brož, M., Rozehnal, J., 2011, "Eurybates - the only asteroid family among Trojans?," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 565-574.


We study the orbital and physical properties of Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. We try to discern all the families previously discussed in the literature, but we conclude that there is only one significant family among the Trojans, namely the cluster around the asteroid (3548) Eurybates. This is the only cluster that has all of the following characteristics: (i) it is clearly concentrated in the proper-element space; (ii) the size-frequency distribution is different from that of background asteroids; (iii) we have a reasonable collisional/dynamical model of the family. Henceforth, we can consider it as a real collisional family. We also report the discovery of a possible family around the asteroid (4709) Ennomos, composed mostly of small asteroids. The asteroid (4709) Ennomos is known to have a very high albedo pV 0.15, which may be related to the hypothetical cratering event that exposed ice. The relation between the collisional family and the exposed surface of the parent body offers a unique means to study the physics of cratering events. However, more data are needed to confirm the existence of this family and its relationship with Ennomos.



Brož, M., Vokrouhlický, D., Morbidelli, A., Nesvorný, D., Bottke, W.F., 2011, "Did the Hilda collisional family form during the late heavy bombardment?," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2716-2727.


We model the long-term evolution of the Hilda collisional family located in the 3/2 mean-motion resonance with Jupiter. Its eccentricity distribution evolves mostly due to the Yarkovsky/YORP effect and assuming that (i) impact disruption was isotropic and (ii) albedo distribution of small asteroids is the same as for large ones, we can estimate the age of the Hilda family to be 4+0-1 Gyr. We also calculate collisional activity in the J3/2 region. Our results indicate that current collisional rates are very low for a 200-km parent body such that the number of expected events over gigayears is much smaller than 1.


The large age and the low probability of the collisional disruption lead us to the conclusion that the Hilda family might have been created during the late heavy bombardment (LHB) when the collisions were much more frequent. The Hilda family may thus serve as a test of orbital behaviour of planets during the LHB. We have tested the influence of the giant-planet migration on the distribution of the family members. The scenarios that are consistent with the observed Hilda family are those with fast migration time-scales 0.3-3 Myr, because longer time-scales produce a family that is depleted and too much spread in eccentricity. Moreover, there is an indication that Jupiter and Saturn were no longer in a compact configuration (with period ratio PS/PJ > 2.09) at the time when the Hilda family was created.


Buchhave, L.A., Bakos, G.Á., Hartman, J.D., Torres, G., Latham, D.W., Andersen, J., Kovács, G., Noyes, R.W., Shporer, A., Esquerdo, G.A., Fischer, D.A., Johnson, J.A., Marcy, G.W., Howard, A.W., Béky, B., Sasselov, D.D., F?rész, G., Quinn, S.N., Stefanik, R.P., Szklenár, T., Berlind, P., Calkins, M.L., Lázár, J., Papp, I., Sári, P., 2011, "Hat-P-28b and Hat-P-29b: Two Sub-Jupiter Mass Transiting Planets," The Astrophysical Journal, 733, 116.


We present the discovery of two transiting exoplanets. HAT-P-28b orbits a V = 13.03 G3 dwarf star with a period P = 3.2572 days and has a mass of 0.63 ± 0.04 M J and a radius of 1.21+0.11 - 0.08 R J yielding a mean density of 0.44 ± 0.09 g cm-3. HAT-P-29b orbits a V = 11.90 F8 dwarf star with a period P = 5.7232 days and has a mass of 0.78+0.08 - 0.04 M J and a radius of 1.11+0.14- 0.08 R J yielding a mean density of 0.71 ± 0.18 g cm-3. We discuss the properties of these planets in the context of other known transiting planets.



Chan, T., Ingemyr, M., Winn, J.N., Holman, M.J., Sanchis-Ojeda, R., Esquerdo, G., Everett, M., 2011, "The Transit Light-curve Project. XIV. Confirmation of Anomalous Radii for the Exoplanets TrES-4b, HAT-P-3b, and WASP-12b," The Astronomical Journal, 141, 179.


We present transit photometry of three exoplanets, TrES-4b, HAT-P-3b, and WASP-12b, allowing for refined estimates of the systems' parameters. TrES-4b and WASP-12b were confirmed to be "bloated" planets, with radii of 1.706 ± 0.056R Jup and 1.736 ± 0.092R Jup, respectively. These planets are too large to be explained with standard models of gas giant planets. In contrast, HAT-P-3b has a radius of 0.827 ± 0.055R Jup, smaller than a pure hydrogen-helium planet and indicative of a highly metal-enriched composition. Analyses of the transit timings revealed no significant departures from strict periodicity. For TrES-4, our relatively recent observations allow for improvement in the orbital ephemerides, which is useful for planning future observations.



Chicone, C., Mashhoon, B., Rosquist, K., 2011, "Double-Kasner spacetime: Peculiar velocities and cosmic jets," Physical Review D, 83, 124029.


In dynamic spacetimes in which asymmetric gravitational collapse/expansion is taking place, the timelike geodesic equation appears to exhibit an interesting property: Relative to the collapsing configuration, free test particles undergo gravitational “acceleration” and form a double-jet configuration parallel to the axis of collapse. We illustrate this aspect of peculiar motion in simple spatially homogeneous cosmological models such as the Kasner spacetime. To estimate the effect of spatial inhomogeneities on cosmic jets, timelike geodesics in the Ricci-flat double-Kasner spacetime are studied in detail. While spatial inhomogeneities can significantly modify the structure of cosmic jets, we find that under favorable conditions the double-jet pattern can initially persist over a finite period of time for sufficiently small inhomogeneities.



Christou, A.A., Asher, D.J., 2011, "A long-lived horseshoe companion to the Earth," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2965-2969.


We present a dynamical investigation of a newly found asteroid, 2010 SO16, and the discovery that it is a horseshoe companion of the Earth. The object's absolute magnitude (H= 20.7) makes this the largest object of its type known to-date. By carrying out numerical integrations of dynamical clones, we find that (a) its status as a horseshoe is secure given the current accuracy of its ephemeris, and (b) the time spent in horseshoe libration with the Earth is several times 105 yr, two orders of magnitude longer than determined for other horseshoe asteroids of the Earth. Further, using a model based on Hill's approximation to the three-body problem, we show that, apart from the low eccentricity which prevents close encounters with other planets or the Earth itself, its stability can be attributed to the value of its Jacobi constant far from the regime that allows transitions into other co-orbital modes or escape from the resonance altogether. We provide evidence that the eventual escape of the asteroid from horseshoe libration is caused by the action of planetary secular perturbations and the stochastic evolution of the eccentricity. The questions of its origin and the existence of as-yet-undiscovered co-orbital companions of the Earth are discussed.



Cottereau, L., Rambaux, N., Lebonnois, S., Souchay, J., 2011, "The various contributions in Venus rotation rate and LOD," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, 45.


Context. Thanks to the Venus Express Mission, new data on the properties of Venus could be obtained, in particular concerning its rotation. <BR /> Aims: In view of these upcoming results, the purpose of this paper is to determine and compare the major physical processes influencing the rotation of Venus and, more particularly, the angular rotation rate.


Methods: Applying models already used for Earth, the effect of the triaxiality of a rigid Venus on its period of rotation are computed. Then the variations of Venus rotation caused by the elasticity, the atmosphere, and the core of the planet are evaluated. <BR /> Results: Although the largest irregularities in the rotation rate of the Earth on short time scales are caused by its atmosphere and elastic deformations, we show that the irregularities for Venus are dominated by the tidal torque exerted by the Sun on its solid body. Indeed, as Venus has a slow rotation, these effects have a large amplitude of two minutes of time (mn). These variations in the rotation rate are greater than the one induced by atmospheric wind variations that can reach 25-50 s of time (s), depending on the simulation used. The variations due to the core effects that vary with its size between 3 and 20 s are smaller. Compared to these effects, the influence of the elastic deformation caused by the zonal tidal potential is negligible.


Conclusions: As the variations in the rotation of Venus reported here are close to 3 mn peak to peak, they should influence past, present, and future observations, thereby providing further constraints on the planet's internal structure and atmosphere.



Crepp, J.R., Johnson, J.A., 2011, "Estimates of the Planet Yield from Ground-based High-contrast Imaging Observations as a Function of Stellar Mass," The Astrophysical Journal, 733, 126.


We use Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the number of extrasolar planets that are directly detectable in the solar neighborhood using current and forthcoming high-contrast imaging instruments. Our calculations take into consideration the important factors that govern the likelihood for imaging a planet, including the statistical properties of stars in the solar neighborhood, correlations between star and planet properties, observational effects, and selection criteria. We consider several different ground-based surveys, both biased and unbiased, and express the resulting planet yields as a function of stellar mass. Selecting targets based on their youth and visual brightness, we find that strong correlations between star mass and planet properties are required to reproduce high-contrast imaging results to date (i.e., HR 8799, β Pic). Using the most recent empirical findings for the occurrence rate of gas-giant planets from radial velocity (RV) surveys, our simulations indicate that naive extrapolation of the Doppler planet population to semimajor axes accessible to high-contrast instruments provides an excellent agreement between simulations and observations using present-day contrast levels. In addition to being intrinsically young and sufficiently bright to serve as their own beacon for adaptive optics correction, A-stars have a high planet occurrence rate and propensity to form massive planets in wide orbits, making them ideal targets. The same effects responsible for creating a multitude of detectable planets around massive stars conspire to reduce the number orbiting low-mass stars. However, in the case of a young stellar cluster, where targets are approximately the same age and situated at roughly the same distance, MK-stars can easily dominate the number of detections because of an observational bias related to small number statistics. The degree to which low-mass stars produce the most planet detections in this special case depends upon whether multiple formation mechanisms are at work. Upon relaxing our assumption that planets in ultra-wide (a > 100 AU) orbits resemble the RV sample, our simulations suggest that the companions found orbiting late-type stars (AB Pic, 1RXSJ1609, GSC 06214, etc.) are consistent with a formation channel distinct from that of RV planets. These calculations explain why planets have thus far been imaged preferentially around A-stars and K-, M-stars, but no spectral types in between, despite concerted efforts targeting F-, G-stars.



Damljanovic, G., Milic, I.S., 2011, "Corrected mu_delta for Stars of Hipparcos Catalogue from Independent Latitude Observations over Many Decades," Serbian Astronomical Journal, 182, 35-41.


During the last century, there were many so-called independent latitude (IL) stations with the observations which were included into data of a few international organizations (like Bureau International de l'Heure - BIH, International Polar Motion Service - IPMS) and the Earth rotation programmes for determining the Earth Orientation Parameters - EOP. Because of this, nowadays, there are numerous astrometric ground-based observations (made over many decades) of some stars included in the Hipparcos Catalogue (ESA 1997). We used these latitude data for the inverse investigations - to improve the proper motions in declination μ_{δ} of the mentioned Hipparcos stars. We determined the corrections Δμ_{δ} and investigated agreement of our μ_{δ} and those from the catalogues Hipparcos and new Hipparcos (van Leeuwen 2007). To do this we used the latitude variations of 7 stations (Belgrade, Blagoveschtschensk, Irkutsk, Poltava, Pulkovo, Warsaw and Mizusawa), covering different intervals in the period 1904.7 - 1992.0, obtained with 6 visual and 1 floating zenith telescopes (Mizusawa). On the other hand, with regard that about two decades have elapsed since the Hipparcos ESA mission observations (the epoch of Hipparcos catalogue is 1991.25), the error of apparent places of Hipparcos stars has increased by nearly 20 mas because of proper motion errors. Also, the mission lasted less than four years which was not enough for a sufficient accuracy of proper motions of some stars (such as double or multiple ones). Our method of calculation, and the calculated μ_{δ} for the common IL/Hipparcos stars are presented here. We constructed an IL catalogue of 1200 stars: there are 707 stars in the first part (with at least 20 years of IL observations) and 493 stars in the second one (less than 20 years). In the case of μ_{&delta}; of IL stars observed at some stations (Blagoveschtschensk, Irkutsk, Mizusawa, Poltava and Pulkovo) we find the formal errors less than the corresponding Hipparcos ones and for some of them (stations Blagoveschtschensk and Irkutsk) even less than the new Hipparcos ones.


Deng, X., Finn, L.S., 2011, "Pulsar timing array observations of gravitational wave source timing parallax," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 50-58.


Pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) act to detect gravitational waves by observing the small, correlated effect the waves have on pulse arrival times at the Earth. This effect has conventionally been evaluated assuming the gravitational wave phase fronts are planar across the array, an assumption that is valid only for sources at distances R 2πL2/λ, where L is physical extent of the array and λ is the radiation wavelength. In the case of PTAs, the array size is of the order of the pulsar-Earth distance (kpc) and λ is of the order of parsec. Correspondingly, for point gravitational wave sources closer than ˜100 Mpc, the PTA response is sensitive to the source parallax across the pulsar-Earth baseline. Here, we evaluate the PTA response to gravitational wave point sources including the important wavefront curvature effects. Taking the wavefront curvature into account, the relative amplitude and phase of the timing residuals associated with a collection of pulsars allow us to measure the distance to, and the sky position of, the source.



Donnison, J.R., 2011, "The Hill stability of binary asteroid and binary Kuiper Belt systems," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 415, 470-486.


The dynamical stability of a bound triple system composed of a binary asteroid system or Kuiper Belt binary system moving on an orbit inclined to a central third body, the Sun, is discussed in terms of Hill stability for the full three-body problem. The regions of Hill stability of these triple systems, where the binary mass is very small compared with that of the third body, can be determined against the possibility of disruption, component exchange and capture. The critical Hill stability curves for the binary mass range of these types of systems are determined for different secondary-to-primary mass ratios as a function of their orbital eccentricity. The regions of stability are found to increase with increasing binary mass. The regions, however, decrease in size substantially with increasing orbital eccentricity and also decrease slightly as the secondary/primary mass ratio of the binary is decreased. The currently observed binary and multiple asteroid systems are discussed generally. In the majority of systems, the primary component is very much larger than the secondary component, forming an asteroid-satellite system. It was found that those systems where the binary mass is well determined would lie in stable regions if they moved on circular orbits, but when their eccentricity is taken into account, it is less clear that the systems are stable. The same is likely to be true for the systems where the masses are not well established. Upper mass limits could be placed on these systems that would ensure they are Hill stable. The currently observed Kuiper Belt binaries were also discussed generally. The majority of these binary systems have secondary components which are often comparable to the diameter of the primary component forming a true binary system. Similar to the asteroid binaries, it was found that binary systems where the mass was well determined were stable if they moved on circular orbits relative to the Sun. When the eccentricity is taken into account, it is less clear that the systems are stable. The same conclusions are also likely to be true for the systems with unknown masses. Upper mass limits again can be placed on these systems that would ensure they are Hill stable.



Dybczyński, P.A., Królikowska, M.g., 2011, "Where do long-period comets come from? Moving through the Jupiter-Saturn barrier," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1183.


The past and future dynamical evolution of all 64 long-period comets having 1/aori < 1 × 10-4 au-1, qosc > 3.0 au and discovered after 1970 is studied. For this sample of Oort-spike comets we have obtained a new, homogeneous set of osculating orbits, including 15 orbits with detected non-gravitational parameters. The non-gravitational effects for 11 comets have been determined for the first time. This means that more than 50 per cent of all comets with perihelion distances between 3 and 4 au and discovered after 1970 show detectable deviations from purely gravitational motion. Each comet was then replaced with a swarm of 5001 virtual comets representing the observations well. These swarms were propagated numerically back and forth up to a heliocentric distance of 250 au, constituting sets of original and future orbits together with their uncertainties. This allowed us to show that the 1/aori distribution is significantly different in shape as well as in maximum position when non-gravitational orbits are included. Next, we followed the dynamical evolution under Galactic tides for one orbital revolution to the past and future, obtaining orbital elements at the previous and next perihelion passages. We obtained a clear dependence of the last revolution change in perihelion distance on 1/aori, which confirmed theoretical expectations.


Based on these results, we discuss the possibility of discriminating between dynamically new and old comets with the aid of their previous perihelion distances. We have shown that about 50 per cent of all comets investigated have their previous perihelion distance below the 15-au limit. This resulted in classifying 31 comets as dynamically new, 26 as dynamically old and 7 as having unclear status. We showed that this classification seems to be immune to perturbations from all known stars. However, discoveries of new, strong stellar perturbers, while rather improbable, may change the situation.


We also present several examples of cometary motion through the Jupiter-Saturn barrier, some of them with a previous perihelion distance smaller than the observed one. New interpretations of the source pathways of long-period comets are also discussed in the light of the suggestions of Kaib & Quinn[DDM1] .



Emelyanov, N.V., Andreev, M.V., Berezhnoi, A.A., Bekhteva, A.S., Vashkovyak, S.N., Velikodskii, Y.I., Vereshchagina, I.A., Gorshanov, D.L., Devyatkin, A.V., Izmailov, I.S., Ivanov, A.V., Irsmambetova, T.R., Kozlov, V.A., Karashevich, S.V., Kurenya, A.N., Naiden, Y.V., Naumov, K.N., Parakhin, N.A., Raskhozhev, V.N., Selyaev, S.A., Sergeev, A.V., Sokov, E.N., Khovrichev, M.Y., Khrutskaya, E.V., Chernikov, M.M., 2011, "Astrometric results of observations at Russian observatories of mutual occultations and eclipses of Jupiter's Galilean satellites in 2009," Solar System Research, 45, 264-277.


In 2009, in five Russian observatories photometric observations of Jupiter’s Galilean satellites during their mutual occultations and eclipses were carried out. Based on these observations, an original method was used to ascertain astrometric results such as the difference between the coordinates of pairs of satellites. Fifty-three phenomena were successfully observed. A total of 94 light curves of satellites were measured. The error in the coordinates of satellites due to random errors in photometry, calculated on all data obtained, was 0.041″ in right ascension and 0.046″ in declination. The discrepancies between the theory and observations in these coordinates was found to be 0.060″ and 0.057″, respectively. The results were uploaded to the common database for all observations of natural satellites of planets at the Natural Satellites Data Center (NSDC), which is available online at For the first time in the practice of photometric observations of satellites in epochs of mutual occultations and eclipses a new method of observation was tested, which eliminates from astrometric results the major systematic errors caused by an inaccurate account of the background level. The tests were conducted in the Terskol Observatory and the observatory of the Crimean laboratory of the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute of the Moscow State University. The application of the new method showed that the elimination of the background level at these observatories was carried out correctly.



Escapa, A., 2011, "Corrections stemming from the non-osculating character of the Andoyer variables used in the description of rotation of the elastic Earth," Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 110, 99-142.


We explore the evolution of the angular velocity of an elastic Earth model, within the Hamiltonian formalism. The evolution of the rotation state of the Earth is caused by the tidal deformation exerted by the Moon and the Sun. It can be demonstrated that the tidal perturbation to spin depends not only upon the instantaneous orientation of the Earth, but also upon its instantaneous angular velocity. Parameterizing the orientation of the Earth figure axis with the three Euler angles, and introducing the canonical momenta conjugated to these, one can then show that the tidal perturbation depends both upon the angles and the momenta. This circumstance complicates the integration of the rotational motion. Specifically, when the integration is carried out in terms of the canonical Andoyer variables (which are the rotational analogues to the orbital Delaunay variables), one should keep in mind the following subtlety: under the said kind of perturbations, the functional dependence of the angular velocity upon the Andoyer elements differs from the unperturbed dependence (Efroimsky in Proceedings of Journées 2004: Systèmes de référence spatio-temporels. l’Observatoire de Paris, pp 74–81, 2005; Efroimsky and Escapa in Celest. Mech. Dyn. Astron. 98:251–283, 2007). This happens because, under angular velocity dependent perturbations, the requirement for the Andoyer elements to be canonical comes into a contradiction with the requirement for these elements to be osculating, a situation that parallels a similar antinomy in orbital dynamics. Under the said perturbations, the expression for the angular velocity acquires an additional contribution, the so called convective term. Hence, the time variation induced on the angular velocity by the tidal deformation contains two parts. The first one comes from the direct terms, caused by the action of the elastic perturbation on the torque-free expressions of the angular velocity. The second one arises from the convective terms. We compute the variations of the angular velocity through the approach developed in Getino and Ferrándiz (Celest. Mech. Dyn. Astron. 61:117–180,1995), but considering the contribution of the convective terms. Specifically, we derive analytical formulas that determine the elastic perturbations of the directional angles of the angular velocity with respect to a non-rotating reference system, and also of its Cartesian components relative to the Tisserand reference system of the Earth. The perturbation of the directional angles of the angular velocity turns out to be different from the evolution law found in Kubo (Celest. Mech. Dyn. Astron. 105:261–274, 2009), where it was stated that the evolution of the angular velocity vector mimics that of the figure axis. We investigate comprehensively the source of this discrepancy, concluding that the difference between our results and those obtained in Ibid. stems from an oversimplification made by Kubo when computing the direct terms. Namely, in his computations Kubo disregarded the motion of the tide raising bodies with respect to a non-rotating reference system when compared with the Earth rotational motion. We demonstrate that, from a numerical perspective, the convective part provides the principal contribution to the variation of the directional angles and of length of day. In the case of the x and y components in the Tisserand system, the convective contribution is of the same order of magnitude as the direct one. Finally, we show that the approximation employed in Kubo (Ibid.) leads to significant numerical differences at the level of a hundred micro-arcsecond.


Fedorov, P.N., Akhmetov, V.S., Bobylev, V.V., 2011, "Residual rotation of the Hipparcos/Tycho-2 system as determined from the data of the XPM catalogue," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1176.


From a comparison of absolute proper motions of stars from the XPM catalogue with those of the same stars from the PPMXL, UCAC3, Tycho-2 and XC1 catalogues, the equatorial components of the rotation vector of these coordinate systems are determined with respect to the coordinate system specified by positions and proper motions of XPM. These parameters are calculated with the use of about 90 million stars from the UCAC3 catalogue and about 300 million stars from the PPMXL catalogue. It is shown that the Hipparcos Celestial Reference Frame represented by the Tycho-2, PPMXL, UCAC3 and XC1 catalogues has a significant rotation component ωz= (-1.8 ± 0.16) mas yr-1 about the equatorial axis directed to the celestial pole. The result is confirmed by an analysis of the formal proper motions of the extragalactic sources contained in the considered catalogues.


Finkelstein, A.M., Kaidanovskii, M.N., Sal'Nikov, A.I., Mikhailov, A.G., Bezrukov, I.A., Skurikhina, E.A., Surkis, I.F., 2011, "Prompt determination of universal time corrections in e-VLBI mode," Astronomy Letters, 37, 431-439.


The results of a prompt determination of the Universal Time corrections in the e-VLBI mode on the Quasar VLBI network in 2009-2011 are presented. For this purpose, the hardware-software tools for observational data transfer from the Svetloe, Zelenchukskaya, and Badary Observatories to the Correlation Processing Center (St. Petersburg) over fiber-optic communication lines in a mode close to real time using the specialized Tsunami protocol have been developed. The rms error in the UTC-UT1 corrections with respect to the combined IERS series is 60 µs.


Fukushima, T., 2011, "Efficient Parallel Computation of All-Pairs N-Body Acceleration by Do-loop Folding," The Astronomical Journal, 142, 18.


The computational load inside a do loop is equalized by folding the loop appropriately if the amount of load is a linear function of the loop index. Using this idea, we develop an efficient parallel computation scheme of Newtonian all-pairs N-body acceleration vectors with help from OpenMP architecture. Using a consumer PC with a quad-core eight-thread processor, the new parallel scheme runs 4.2-4.9 times faster than a serial computation when the number of particles exceeds a few hundred.




Gelman, S.E., Elkins-Tanton, L.T., Seager, S., 2011, "Effects of Stellar Flux on Tidally Locked Terrestrial Planets: Degree-1 Mantle Convection and Local Magma Ponds," The Astrophysical Journal, 735, 72.


We model the geodynamical evolution of super-Earth exoplanets in synchronous rotation about their star. While neglecting the effects of a potential atmosphere, we explore the parameter spaces of both the Rayleigh number and intensity of incoming stellar flux, and identify two main stages of mantle convection evolution. The first is a transient stage in which a lithospheric temperature and thickness dichotomy emerges between the substellar and the antistellar hemispheres, while the style of mantle convection is dictated by the Rayleigh number. The second stage is the development of degree-1 mantle convection. Depending on mantle properties, the timescale of onset of this second stage of mantle evolution varies from order 1 to 100 billion years of simulated planetary evolution. Planets with higher Rayleigh numbers (due to, for instance, larger planetary radii than the Earth) and planets whose incoming stellar flux is high (likely for most detectable exoplanets) will develop degree-1 mantle convection most quickly, on the order of 1 billion years, which is within the age of many planetary systems. Surface temperatures range from 220 K to 830 K, implying the possibility of liquid water in some regions near the surface. These results are discussed in the context of stable molten magma ponds on hotter planets, and the habitability of super-Earths which may lie outside the Habitable Zone.


Girard, T.M., van Altena, W.F., Zacharias, N., Vieira, K., Casetti-Dinescu, D.I., Castillo, D., Herrera, D., Lee, Y.S., Beers, T.C., Monet, D.G., López, C.E., 2011, "The Southern Proper Motion Program. IV. The SPM4 Catalog," The Astronomical Journal, 142, 15.


We present the fourth installment of the Yale/San Juan Southern Proper Motion Catalog, SPM4. The SPM4 contains absolute proper motions, celestial coordinates, and B, V photometry for over 103 million stars and galaxies between the south celestial pole and -20° declination. The catalog is roughly complete to V = 17.5 and is based on photographic and CCD observations taken with the Yale Southern Observatory's double astrograph at Cesco Observatory in El Leoncito, Argentina. The proper-motion precision, for well-measured stars, is estimated to be 2-3 mas yr-1, depending on the type of second-epoch material. At the bright end, proper motions are on the International Celestial Reference System by way of Hipparcos Catalog stars, while the faint end is anchored to the inertial system using external galaxies. Systematic uncertainties in the absolute proper motions are on the order of 1 mas yr-1.



Golimowski, D.A., Krist, J.E., Stapelfeldt, K.R., Chen, C.H., Ardila, D.R., Bryden, G., Clampin, M., Ford, H.C., Illingworth, G.D., Plavchan, P., Rieke, G.H., Su, K.Y.L., 2011, "Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of the Debris Disk around the nearby K Dwarf HD 92945," The Astronomical Journal, 142, 30.


We present the first resolved images of the debris disk around the nearby K dwarf HD 92945, obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope's (HST 's) Advanced Camera for Surveys. Our F606W (Broad V) and F814W (Broad I) coronagraphic images reveal an inclined, axisymmetric disk consisting of an inner ring about 2farcs0-3farcs0 (43-65 AU) from the star and an extended outer disk whose surface brightness declines slowly with increasing radius approximately 3farcs0-5farcs1 (65-110 AU) from the star. A precipitous drop in the surface brightness beyond 110 AU suggests that the outer disk is truncated at that distance. The radial surface-density profile is peaked at both the inner ring and the outer edge of the disk. The dust in the outer disk scatters neutrally but isotropically, and it has a low V-band albedo of 0.1. This combination of axisymmetry, ringed and extended morphology, and isotropic neutral scattering is unique among the 16 debris disks currently resolved in scattered light. We also present new infrared photometry and spectra of


Hess, S.L.G., Zarka, P., 2011, "Modeling the radio signature of the orbital parameters, rotation, and magnetic field of exoplanets," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, 29.


Context. Since the first extra-solar planet discovery in 1995, several hundreds of these planets have been discovered. Most are hot Jupiters, i.e. massive planets orbiting close to their star. These planets may be powerful radio emitters. <BR /> Aims: We simulate the radio dynamic spectra resulting from various interaction models between an exoplanet and its parent star, i.e. exoplanet-induced stellar emission and three variants of the exoplanet's magnetospheric auroral radio emission (full auroral oval, active sector fixed in longitude, and active sector fixed in local time).


Methods: We show the physical information about the system that can be drawn from radio observations, and how this can be achieved. This information includes the magnetic field strength and the rotation period of the emitting body (planet or star), the orbital period, the orbit's inclination, and the magnetic field tilt relative to the rotation axis or offset relative to the center of the planet. For most of these parameters, radio observations provide a unique means of measuring them.


Results: Our results should provide the proper framework of analysis and interpretation for future detections of radio emissions from exoplanetary systems - or from magnetic white dwarf-planet or white dwarf-brown dwarf systems -, that are expected to commence soon as part of extensive programs at large radiotelescopes such as LOFAR, UTR2 or the GMRT. Our methodology can be easily adapted to simulate specific observations, once effective detection is achieved.



Hou, X.Y., Liu, L., 2011, "On motions around the collinear libration points in the elliptic restricted three-body problem," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1008.


Motions around the collinear libration points in the elliptic restricted three-body problem are studied. Literal expansions of the Lissajous orbits and the halo orbits are obtained. These expansions depend on two amplitude parameters and the orbital eccentricity of the two primaries. Numerical simulations are done to check the validity of these literal series and to compare them with the results in the circular restricted three-body problem. According to the properties of these literal expansions, three kinds of symmetric periodic orbits around the collinear libration points are discussed. Finally, applications of these results in the Earth-Moon system and the Sun-Earth+Moon system are discussed.


Jacobson, S.A., Scheeres, D.J., 2011, "Long-term Stable Equilibria for Synchronous Binary Asteroids," The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 736, L19.


Synchronous binary asteroids may exist in a long-term stable equilibrium, where the opposing torques from mutual body tides and the binary YORP (BYORP) effect cancel. Interior of this equilibrium, mutual body tides are stronger than the BYORP effect and the mutual orbit semimajor axis expands to the equilibrium; outside of the equilibrium, the BYORP effect dominates the evolution and the system semimajor axis will contract to the equilibrium. If the observed population of small (0.1-10 km diameter) synchronous binaries are in static configurations that are no longer evolving, then this would be confirmed by a null result in the observational tests for the BYORP effect. The confirmed existence of this equilibrium combined with a shape model of the secondary of the system enables the direct study of asteroid geophysics through the tidal theory. The observed synchronous asteroid population cannot exist in this equilibrium if described by the canonical "monolithic" geophysical model. The "rubble pile" geophysical model proposed by Goldreich & Sari is sufficient, however it predicts a tidal Love number directly proportional to the radius of the asteroid, while the best fit to the data predicts a tidal Love number inversely proportional to the radius. This deviation from the canonical and Goldreich & Sari models motivates future study of asteroid geophysics. Ongoing BYORP detection campaigns will determine whether these systems are in an equilibrium, and future determination of secondary shapes will allow direct determination of asteroid geophysical parameters.


Kane, S.R., Henry, G.W., Dragomir, D., Fischer, D.A., Howard, A.W., Wang, X., Wright, J.T., 2011, "Revised Orbit and Transit Exclusion for HD 114762b," The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 735, L41.


Transiting planets around bright stars have allowed the detailed follow-up and characterization of exoplanets, such as the study of exoplanetary atmospheres. The Transit Ephemeris Refinement and Monitoring Survey is refining the orbits of the known exoplanets to confirm or rule out both transit signatures and the presence of additional companions. Here we present results for the companion orbiting HD 114762 in an eccentric 84 day orbit. Radial velocity analysis performed on 19 years of Lick Observatory data constrain the uncertainty in the predicted time of mid-transit to ~5 hr, which is less than the predicted one-half day transit duration. We find no evidence of additional companions in this system. New photometric observations with one of our Automated Photoelectric Telescopes at Fairborn Observatory taken during a revised transit time for companion b, along with 23 years of nightly automated observations, allow us to rule out on-time central transits to a limit of ~0.001 mag. Early or late central transits are ruled out to a limit of ~0.002 mag, and transits with half the duration of a central transit are ruled out to a limit of ~0.003 mag.



Karastergiou, A., Roberts, S.J., Johnston, S., Lee, H., Weltevrede, P., Kramer, M., 2011, "A transient component in the pulse profile of PSR J0738-4042," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 415, 251-256.


One of the tenets of the radio pulsar observational picture is that the integrated pulse profiles are constant with time. This assumption underpins much of the fantastic science made possible via pulsar timing. Over the past few years, however, this assumption has come under question with a number of pulsars showing pulse shape changes on a range of time-scales. Here, we show the dramatic appearance of a bright component in the pulse profile of PSR J0738-4042 (B0736-40). The component arises on the leading edge of the profile. It was not present in 2004 but strongly present in 2006 and all observations thereafter. A subsequent search through the literature shows that the additional component varies in flux density over time-scales of decades. We show that the polarization properties of the transient component are consistent with the picture of competing orthogonal polarization modes. Faced with the general problem of identifying and characterizing average profile changes, we outline and apply a statistical technique based on a hidden Markov model. The value of this technique is established through simulations and is shown to work successfully in the case of low signal-to-noise ratio profiles.


Kipping, D.M., 2011, "LUNA: an algorithm for generating dynamic planet-moon transits," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1132.


t has been previously shown that moons of extrasolar planets may be detectable with the Kepler Mission, for moon masses above ~0.2 M. Transit timing effects have been formerly identified as a potent tool to this end, exploiting the dynamics of the system. In this work, we explore the simulation of transit light curves of a planet plus a single moon including not only the transit timing effects, but also the light-curve signal of the moon itself. We introduce our new algorithm, LUNA, which produces transit light curves for both bodies, analytically accounting for shadow overlaps, stellar limb darkening and planet-moon dynamical motion. By building the dynamics into the core of LUNA, the routine automatically accounts for transit-timing/duration variations and ingress/egress asymmetries for not only the planet, but also the moon.


We then generate some artificial data for two feasibly detectable hypothetical systems of interest: (i) prograde and (ii) retrograde Earth-like moons around a habitable-zone Neptune for an M dwarf system. We fit the hypothetical systems using LUNA and demonstrate the feasibility of detecting these cases with Kepler photometry.


Koch, F.E., Hansen, B.M.S., 2011, "On collisional capture rates of irregular satellites around the gas-giant planets and the minimum mass of the solar nebula," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1069.


We investigate the probability that an inelastic collision of planetesimals within the Hill sphere of the Jovian planets could explain the presence and orbits of observed irregular satellites. Capture of satellites via this mechanism is highly dependent on not only the mass of the protoplanetary disc, but also the shape of the planetesimal size distribution. We performed 2000 simulations for integrated time intervals ~2 Myr and found that, given the currently accepted value for the minimum mass solar nebula and planetesimal number density based upon the Nesvorný et al. and Charnoz & Morbidelli size distribution dN~D-3.5dD, the collision rates for the different Jovian planets range between ~0.6 and 170 Myr-1 for objects with radii 1 km ≤r≤ 10 km. Additionally, we found that the probability that these collisions remove enough orbital energy to yield a bound orbit was 10-5 and had very little dependence on the relative size of the planetesimals. Of these collisions, the collision energy between two objects was 103 times the gravitational binding energy for objects with radii ~100 km. We find that capturing irregular satellites via collisions between unbound objects can only account for ~0.1 per cent of the observed population, hence this cannot be the sole method of producing irregular satellites.


Köhler, R., 2011, "The orbit of GG Tauri A," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 530, 126.


Aims: We present a study of the orbit of the pre-main-sequence binary system GG Tau A and its relation to its circumbinary disk, in order to find an explanation for the sharp inner edge of the disk.


Methods: Three new relative astrometric positions of the binary were obtained with NACO at the VLT. We combine them with data from the literature and fit orbit models to the dataset.


Results: We find that an orbit coplanar with the disk and compatible with the astrometric data is too small to explain the inner gap of the disk. On the other hand, orbits large enough to cause the gap are tilted with respect to the disk. If the disk gap is indeed caused by the stellar companion, then the most likely explanation is a combination of underestimated astrometric errors and a misalignment between the planes of the disk and the orbit.


Koot, L., de Viron, O., 2011, "Atmospheric contributions to nutations and implications for the estimation of deep Earth's properties from nutation observations," Geophysical Journal International, 185, 1255-1265.


We propose a new estimation of the atmospheric contributions to Earth's nutations based on three reanalyses of atmospheric global circulation models (GCM), namely the two reanalyses of the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the ERA-40 reanalysis of the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). We estimate the complex amplitudes of the periodic terms in the atmospheric forcing and convolve them with a transfer function for a three-layers Earth with an anelastic mantle and dissipative couplings at the fluid core boundaries. Unlike previous estimations based on operational GCMs, the results we obtain here from the three reanalysis GCMs are in good agreement, which makes them more reliable. From a joint inversion of the three atmospheric models on their common time span (from 1979 to 2002.3), we estimate the atmospheric contributions to nutations to be -38.2 ± 0.4 μas in-phase (ip) and 65.1 ± 0.4 μas out-of-phase (op) on the prograde annual term (S1), -64 ± 5 μas ip and 29 ± 5 μas op on the retrograde annual term (ψ1), and -11.3 ± 0.3 μas ip and 41.5 ± 0.3 μas op on the prograde semi-annual term (P1). As the atmospheric contributions to nutation vary in time, we also compute their time-variability on the time span from 1979 to 2010. In particular, we show that the contribution to ψ1 has a very large time variability but that these variations are well determined by the atmospheric models that we use. Finally, we explore the implications of the atmospheric contribution to ψ1 on the estimation of Earth's deep interior properties from nutation observations. We show that this contribution is too small to affect significantly the estimation of these properties.


Kovács, T., Bene, G., Tél, T., 2011, "Relativistic effects in the chaotic Sitnikov problem," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2275-2281.


We investigate the phase-space structure of the relativistic Sitnikov problem in the first post-Newtonian approximation. The phase-space portraits show a strong dependence on the gravitational radius which describes the strength of the relativistic pericentre advance. Bifurcations appearing at various gravitational radii are presented. Transient chaotic behaviour related to escapes from the primaries is also studied. Finally, the numerically determined chaotic saddle is investigated in the context of hyperbolic and non-hyperbolic dynamics as a function of the gravitational radius.



Krijt, S., Dominik, C., 2011, "Stirring up the dust: a dynamical model for halo-like dust clouds in transitional disks," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, 80.


Context. A small number of young stellar objects show signs of a halo-like structure of optically thin dust, in addition to a circumstellar disk. This halo or torus is located within a few AU of the star, but its origin has not yet been understood.


Aims: A dynamically excited cloud of planetesimals colliding to eventually form dust could produce such a structure. The cause of the dynamical excitation could be one or more planets, perhaps on eccentric orbits, or a migrating planet. This work investigates an inwardly migrating planet that is dynamically scattering planetesimals as a possible cause for the observed structures. If this mechanism is responsible, the observed halo-like structure could be used to infer the existence of planets in these systems.


Methods: We present analytical estimates on the maximum inclination reached owing to dynamical interactions between planetesimals and a migrating planet. In addition, a symplectic integrator is used to simulate the effect of a migrating planet on a population of planetesimals. Collision time scales are estimated for the resulting population of planetesimals and the size distribution of the dust created in catastrophic collisions is determined.


Results: It is found that an inwardly migrating planet is only able to scatter the material it encounters to highly-inclined orbits if the material is on an eccentric orbit. Such eccentric orbits can be the result of resonance trapping and eccentricity pumping. Simulations show that for a certain range of migration rates and planet masses, resonance capture combined with planetary migration indeed causes the planetesimals to reach eccentric orbits and subsequently get scattered to highly-inclined orbits. The size distribution of the resulting dust is calculated determined to find the total mass and optical depth, which are found to compare reasonably well with the observed structures.


Conclusions: Dynamical scattering of planetesimals caused by a planet migrating in, followed by the grinding down of these planetesimals to dust grains, appears to be a promising explanation for the inferred circumstellar dust clouds. Further study is needed to see if the haloes can be used to infer the presence of planets.



Kubo, Y., 2011, "Kinematical modeling of the Earth rotation, focusing on the Oppolzer terms in a rigid Earth and the Oppolzer-like terms in an elastic Earth," Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 110, 143-168.


Under perturbations from outer bodies, the Earth experiences changes of its angular momentum axis, figure axis and rotational axis. In the theory of the rigid Earth, in addition to the precession and nutation of the angular momentum axis given by the Poisson terms, both the figure axis and the rotational axis suffer forced deviation from the angular momentum axis. This deviation is expressed by the so-called Oppolzer terms describing separation of the averaged figure axis, called CIP (Celestial Intermediate Pole) or CEP (Celestial Ephemeris Pole), and the mathematically defined rotational axis, from the angular momentum axis. The CIP is the rotational axis in a frame subject to both precession and nutation, while the mathematical rotational axis is that in the inertial (non-rotating) frame. We investigate, kinematically, the origin of the separation between these two axes - both for the rigid Earth and an elastic Earth. In the case of an elastic Earth perturbed by the same outer bodies, there appear further deviations of the figure and rotational axes from the angular momentum axis. These deviations, though similar to the Oppolzer terms in the rigid Earth, are produced by quite a different physical mechanism. Analysing this mechanism, we derive an expression for the Oppolzer-like terms in an elastic Earth. From this expression we demonstrate that, under a certain approximation (in neglect of the motion of the perturbing outer bodies), the sum of the direct and convective perturbations of the spin axis coincides with the direct perturbation of the figure axis. This equality, which is approximate, gets violated when the motion of the outer bodies is taken into account.


Labadie, L., Martín, G., Anheier, N.C., Arezki, B., Qiao, H.A., Bernacki, B., Kern, P., 2011, "First fringes with an integrated-optics beam combiner at 10 mm. A new step towards instrument miniaturization for mid-infrared interferometry," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, 48.


Context. Observations of milliarcsecond-resolution scales and high dynamic range hold a central place in the exploration of distant planetary systems in order to achieve, for instance, the spectroscopic characterization of exo-Earths or the detailed mapping of their protoplanetary disc birthplace. Multi-aperture infrared interferometry, either from the ground or from space, is a very powerful technique to tackle these goals. However, significant technical efforts still need to be undertaken to achieve a simplification of these instruments if we wish to recombine the light from a large number of telescopes. Integrated-optics concepts appear to be a suitable alternative to the current conventional designs, especially if their use can be extended to a higher number of astronomical bands.


Aims: This article reports, for the first time to our knowledge, the experimental demonstration of the feasibility of an integrated-optics approach to mid-infrared beam combination for single-mode stellar interferometry.


Methods: We fabricated a two-telescope beam combiner prototype integrated on a substrate of chalcogenide glass, a material transparent from ~1 ?m to ~14 ?m. We developed laboratory tools to characterize in the mid-infrared the modal properties and the interferometric capabilities of our device.


Results: We obtain interferometric fringes at 10 mm and measure a mean contrast V = 0.981 ± 0.001 with high repeatability over one week and high stability over a time-period of ~5 h. We show experimentally - as well as on the basis of modeling considerations - that the component has a single-mode behavior at this wavelength, which is essential to achieve high-accuracy interferometry. From previous studies, the propagation losses are estimated to be 0.5 dB/cm for this type of component. We also discuss possible issues that may impact the interferometric contrast.


Conclusions: The IO beam combiner performs well at the tested wavelength. We also anticipate the requirement of a closer matching between the numerical apertures of the component and the (de)coupling optics to optimize the total throughput. The next step foreseen is the achievement of wide-band interferograms.


Lara, M., Fukushima, T., Ferrer, S., 2011, "Ceres' rotation solution under the gravitational torque of the Sun," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 415, 461-469.


Available observations of the shape of Ceres show it as a rotationally symmetric oblate spheroid. However, deviations from axisymmetry even at the level of observational accuracy may show significant effects on its rotational dynamics. These presumed deviations can be accounted for in a purely analytical way by means of perturbation theory. In our approach, the spherical rotor is taken as the unperturbed part of the motion instead of the more common torque-free motion or uniaxial body approaches. This alternative allows us to compute an analytical solution for the rotation of Ceres under the gravitational pull of the Sun by proceeding with a successive elimination of the different angles, which only involves quadratures of straightforward computation.


Lazaridis, K., Verbiest, J.P.W., Tauris, T.M., Stappers, B.W., Kramer, M., Wex, N., Jessner, A., Cognard, I., Desvignes, G., Janssen, G.H., Purver, M.B., Theureau, G., Bassa, C.G., Smits, R., 2011, "Evidence for gravitational quadrupole moment variations in the companion of PSR J2051-0827," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 3134-3144.


We have conducted radio timing observations of the eclipsing millisecond binary pulsar PSR J2051-0827 with the European Pulsar Timing Array network of telescopes and the Parkes radio telescope, spanning over 13 yr. The increased data span allows significant measurements of the orbital eccentricity, e= (6.2 ± 1.3) × 10-5, and composite proper motion, μt= 7.3 ± 0.4 mas yr-1. Our timing observations have revealed secular variations of the projected semimajor axis of the pulsar orbit which are much more extreme than those previously published and of the orbital period of the system. Investigations of the physical mechanisms producing such variations confirm that the variations of the semimajor axis are most probably caused by classical spin-orbit coupling in the binary system, while the variations in orbital period are most likely caused by tidal dissipation leading to changes in the gravitational quadrupole moment of the companion.


Lee, K.J., Wex, N., Kramer, M., Stappers, B.W., Bassa, C.G., Janssen, G.H., Karuppusamy, R., Smits, R., 2011, "Gravitational wave astronomy of single sources with a pulsar timing array," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 3251-3264.


The stability of radio millisecond pulsars as celestial clocks allows for the possibility to detect and study the properties of gravitational waves (GWs) when the received pulses are timed jointly in a 'Pulsar Timing Array' (PTA) experiment. Here, we investigate the potential of detecting the GW from individual binary black hole systems using PTAs and calculate the accuracy for determining the GW properties. This is done in a consistent analysis, which at the same time accounts for the measurement of the pulsar distances via the timing parallax.


We find that, at low redshift, a PTA is able to detect the nano-hertz GW from super-massive black hole binary systems with masses of ˜108-1010Msun less than ˜105 yrs before the final merger. Binaries with more than ˜103-104 yr before merger are effectively monochromatic GW, and those with less than ˜103-104 yr before merger may allow us to detect the evolution of binaries.


For our findings, we derive an analytical expression to describe the accuracy of a pulsar distance measurement via timing parallax. We consider 5 yr of bi-weekly observations at a precision of 15 ns for close-by (˜0.5-1 kpc) pulsars. Timing 20 pulsars would allow us to detect a GW source with an amplitude larger than 5 × 10-17. We calculate the corresponding GW and binary orbital parameters and their measurement precision. The accuracy of measuring the binary orbital inclination angle, the sky position and the GW frequency is calculated as functions of the GW amplitude. We note that the 'pulsar term', which is commonly regarded as noise, is essential for obtaining an accurate measurement for the GW source location.


We also show that utilizing the information encoded in the GW signal passing the Earth also increases the accuracy of pulsar distance measurements. If the GW is strong enough, one can achieve sub-parsec distance measurements for nearby pulsars with distance less than ˜0.5-1 kpc.



Libert, A.-S., Hubaux, C., Carletti, T., 2011, "The Global Symplectic Integrator: an efficient tool for stability studies of dynamical systems. Application to the Kozai resonance in the restricted three-body problem," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 659-667.


Following the discovery of extrasolar systems, the study of long-term evolution and stability of planetary systems is enjoying a renewed interest. While non-symplectic integrators are very time-consuming because of the very long time-scales and the small integration steps required to have a good energy preservation, symplectic integrators are well suited for the study of such orbits on long time-spans. However, stability studies of dynamical systems generally rely on non-symplectic integrations of deviation vectors. In this work we propose a numerical approach to distinguish between regular and chaotic orbits in Hamiltonian systems, hereby called Global Symplectic Integrator. It consists of the simultaneous integration of the orbit and the deviation vectors using a symplectic scheme of any order. In particular, due to its symplectic properties, the proposed method allows us to recover the correct orbit characteristics using very large integration time-steps, fluctuations of energy around a constant value and short CPU times. It proves to be more efficient than non-symplectic schemes to correctly identify the behaviour of a given orbit, especially on dynamics acting on long time-scales. To illustrate the numerical performances of the global symplectic integrator, we will apply it to the well-known toy problem of Hénon-Heiles and the challenging problem of the Kozai resonance in the restricted three-body problem, whose secular effects have periods of the order of 104-105 yr.


Liu, X., Baoyin, H., Ma, X., 2011, "Equilibria, periodic orbits around equilibria, and heteroclinic connections in the gravity field of a rotating homogeneous cube," Astrophysics and Space Science, 333, 409-418.


This paper investigates the dynamics of a particle orbiting around a rotating homogeneous cube, and shows fruitful results that have implications for examining the dynamics of orbits around non-spherical celestial bodies. This study can be considered as an extension of previous research work on the dynamics of orbits around simple shaped bodies, including a straight segment, a circular ring, an annulus disk, and simple planar plates with backgrounds in celestial mechanics. In the synodic reference frame, the model of a rotating cube is established, the equilibria are calculated, and their linear stabilities are determined. Periodic orbits around the equilibria are computed using the traditional differential correction method, and their stabilities are determined by the eigenvalues of the monodromy matrix. The existence of homoclinic and heteroclinic orbits connecting periodic orbits around the equilibria is examined and proved numerically in order to understand the global orbit structure of the system. This study contributes to the investigation of irregular shaped celestial bodies that can be divided into a set of cubes.


Louchet-Chauvet, A., Farah, T., Bodart, Q., Clairon, A., Landragin, A., Merlet, S., Pereira Dos Santos, F., 2011, "The influence of transverse motion within an atomic gravimeter," New Journal of Physics, 13, 5025.


Limits on the long-term stability and accuracy of a second generation cold atom gravimeter are investigated. We demonstrate a measurement protocol based on four interleaved measurement configurations, which allows rejection of most of the systematic effects, but not those related to Coriolis acceleration and wave-front distortions. Both are related to the transverse motion of the atomic cloud. Carrying out measurements with opposite orientations with respect to the Earth's rotation vector direction allows us to separate the effects and correct for the Coriolis shift. Finally, measurements at different atomic temperatures are presented and analyzed. In particular, we show the difficulty of extrapolating these measurements to zero temperature, which is required in order to correct for the bias due to wave-front distortions.


Luzum, B., Capitaine, N., Fienga, A., Folkner, W., Fukushima, T., Hilton, J., Hohenkerk, C., Krasinsky, G., Petit, G., Pitjeva, E., Soffel, M., Wallace, P., 2011, "The IAU 2009 system of astronomical constants: the report of the IAU working group on numerical standards for Fundamental Astronomy," Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 30.


In the 2006-2009 triennium, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Numerical Standards for Fundamental Astronomy determined a list of Current Best Estimates (CBEs). The IAU 2009 Resolution B2 adopted these CBEs as the IAU (2009) System of Astronomical Constants. Additional work continues to define the process of updating the CBEs and creating a standard electronic document.


Machida, M.N., Matsumoto, T., 2011, "The origin and formation of the circumstellar disc," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 413, 2767-2784.


The formation and evolution of the circumstellar disc in the collapsing molecular cloud with and without magnetic field is investigated from the pre-stellar stage resolving both the molecular cloud core and the protostar itself. In the collapsing cloud core, the first (adiabatic) core appears prior to the protostar formation. Reflecting the thermodynamics of the collapsing gas, the first core is much more massive than the protostar. When the molecular cloud has no angular momentum, the first core falls on to the protostar and disappears a few years after the protostar formation. On the other hand, when the molecular cloud has an angular momentum, the first core does not disappear even after the protostar formation, and directly evolves into the circumstellar disc with a Keplerian rotation. There are two paths for the formation of the circumstellar disc. When the initial cloud has a considerably small rotational energy, two nested discs appear just after the protostar formation. During the early main accretion phase, the inner disc increases its size and merges with the outer disc (i.e. first core) to form a single circumstellar disc with a Keplerian rotation. On the other hand, when the molecular cloud has a rotational energy comparable to observations, a single centrifugally supported disc that corresponds to the first core already exists prior to the protostar formation. In such a cloud, the first core density gradually increases, maintaining the Keplerian rotation and forms the protostar inside it. The magnetic field rarely affects the early formation of the circumstellar disc because the magnetic field dissipates in the high-density gas region where the circumstellar disc forms. As a result, in any case, the protostar at its formation is already surrounded by a massive circumstellar disc. The circumstellar disc is about 10-100 times more massive than the protostar in the main accretion phase. Such discs are favourable sites for the formation of binary companions and gas-giant planets.


Marzari, F., Thébault, P., 2011, "On how optical depth tunes the effects of the interstellar medium on debris discs," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1049.


The flux of neutral atoms of the interstellar medium (ISM) surrounding stars and their environment affects the motion of dust particles in debris discs, causing a significant dynamical evolution. Large values of eccentricity and inclination can be excited, and strong correlations settle in among the orbital angles. This dynamical behaviour, in particular for bound dust grains, can potentially cause significant asymmetries in dusty discs around solar-type stars, which might be detected by observations. However, the amount of orbital change as a result of this non-gravitational perturbation is strongly limited by the collisional lifetime of dust particles. We show that, for large values of the disc's optical depth, the influence of the ISM flow on the disc shape is almost negligible. This is because the grains are collisionally destroyed before they can accumulate enough orbital changes as a result of the ISM perturbations. However, for values smaller than 10-3, peculiar asymmetric patterns appear in the density profile of the disc when we consider grains of 1-10 μm grains, just above the blow-out threshold. The extent and relevance of these asymmetries grow for lower values of the optical depth. An additional sink mechanism, which might prevent the formation of large clumps and warping in the discs, is related to the fast inward migration as a result of the drag component of the forces. When a significant eccentricity is enlarged by the ISM perturbations, the drag forces (Poynting-Robertson drag and, in particular, ISM drag) drive the disc particles on fast migrating tracks, leading them into the star on a short time-scale. It is then expected that discs with small optical depth expand inside the parent body ring all the way towards the star, while discs with large optical depth would not significantly extend inside.


Moór, A., Frey, S., Lambert, S.B., Titov, O.A., Bakos, J., 2011, "On the Connection of the Apparent Proper Motion and the VLBI Structure of Compact Radio Sources," The Astronomical Journal, 141, 178.


Many of the compact extragalactic radio sources that are used as fiducial points to define the celestial reference frame are known to have proper motions detectable with long-term geodetic/astrometric very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) measurements. These changes can be as high as several hundred microarcseconds per year for certain objects. When imaged with VLBI at milliarcsecond (mas) angular resolution, these sources (radio-loud active galactic nuclei) typically show structures dominated by a compact, often unresolved "core" and a one-sided "jet." The positional instability of compact radio sources is believed to be connected with changes in their brightness distribution structure. For the first time, we test this assumption in a statistical sense on a large sample rather than on only individual objects. We investigate a sample of 62 radio sources for which reliable long-term time series of astrometric positions as well as detailed 8 GHz VLBI brightness distribution models are available. We compare the characteristic direction of their extended jet structure and the direction of their apparent proper motion. We present our data and analysis method, and conclude that there is indeed a correlation between the two characteristic directions. However, there are cases where the ~1-10 mas scale VLBI jet directions are significantly misaligned with respect to the apparent proper motion direction.


Nichols, J.D., 2011, "Magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling at Jupiter-like exoplanets with internal plasma sources: implications for detectability of auroral radio emissions," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2125-2138.


In this paper we provide the first consideration of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling at Jupiter-like exoplanets with internal plasma sources such as volcanic moons. We estimate the radio power emitted by such systems under the condition of near-rigid corotation throughout the closed magnetosphere, in order to examine the behaviour of the best candidates for detection with next generation radio telescopes. We thus estimate for different stellar X-ray-UV (XUV) luminosity cases the orbital distances within which the ionospheric Pedersen conductance would be high enough to maintain near-rigid corotation, and we then consider the magnitudes of the large-scale magnetosphere-ionosphere currents flowing within the systems, and the resulting radio powers, at such distances. We also examine the effects of two key system parameters, i.e. the planetary angular velocity and the plasma mass outflow rate from sources internal to the magnetosphere. In all XUV luminosity cases studied, a significant number of parameter combinations within an order of magnitude of the jovian values are capable of producing emissions observable beyond 1 pc, in most cases requiring exoplanets orbiting at distances between ~1 and 50 au, and for the higher XUV luminosity cases these observable distances can reach beyond ~50 pc for massive, rapidly rotating planets. The implication of these results is that the best candidates for detection of such internally generated radio emissions are rapidly rotating Jupiter-like exoplanets orbiting stars with high XUV luminosity at orbital distances beyond ~1 au, and searching for such emissions may offer a new method of detection of more distant-orbiting exoplanets.


Patience, J., Bulger, J., King, R.R., Ayliffe, B., Bate, M.R., Song, I., Pinte, C., Koda, J., Dowell, C.D., Kovács, A., 2011, "Spatially resolved submillimeter imaging of the HR 8799 debris disk," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 531, L17.


Dynamical interactions between planets and debris disks may sculpt the disk structure and impact planetary orbits, but only a few systems with both imaged planets and spatially resolved debris disks are known. With the Caltech Submm Observatory (CSO), we have observed the HR 8799 debris disk at 350 ?m. The 350 mm map is the first spatially resolved measurement of the debris disk encircling the HR 8799 planetary system at this wavelength. Both the flux and size of the emission are consistent with a Kuiper belt of dust extending from ~100-300 AU. Although the resolution of the current map is limited, the map shows an indication of offset asymmetric emission, and several scenarios for this possibility are explored with radiative transfer calculations of a star-disk system and N-body numerical simulations of planet-disk interactions with parameters representative of the HR 8799 system. Based on observations obtained at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory.Figures 3 and 4 are available in electronic form at


Pont, F., Husnoo, N., Mazeh, T., Fabrycky, D., 2011, "Determining eccentricities of transiting planets: a divide in the mass-period plane," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 1278-1284.


The two dominant features in the distribution of orbital parameters for close-in exoplanets are the prevalence of circular orbits for very short periods, and the observation that planets on closer orbits tend to be heavier. The first feature is interpreted as a signature of tidal evolution, while the origin of the second, a 'mass-period relation' for hot Jupiters, is not understood. In this paper we reconsider the ensemble properties of transiting exoplanets with well-measured parameters, focusing on orbital eccentricity and the mass-period relation. We recalculate the constraints on eccentricity in a homogeneous way, using new radial velocity data, with particular attention to statistical biases. We find that planets on circular orbits gather in a well-defined region of the mass-period plane, close to the minimum period for any given mass. Exceptions to this pattern reported in the literature can be attributed to statistical biases. The ensemble data is compatible with classical tide theory with orbital circularization caused by tides raised on the planet, and suggest that tidal circularization and the stopping mechanisms for close-in planets are closely related to each other. The position mass-period relation is compatible with a relation between a planet's Hill radius and its present orbit.


Porter, S.B., Grundy, W.M., 2011, "Post-capture Evolution of Potentially Habitable Exomoons," The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 736, L14.


The satellites of extrasolar planets (exomoons) have been recently proposed as astrobiological targets. Since giant planets in the habitable zone are thought to have migrated there, it is possible that they may have captured a former terrestrial planet or planetesimal. We therefore attempt to model the dynamical evolution of a terrestrial planet captured into orbit around a giant planet in the habitable zone of a star. We find that approximately half of loose elliptical orbits result in stable circular orbits over timescales of less than a few million years. We also find that those orbits are mostly at low inclination, but have no prograde/retrograde preference. In addition, we calculate the transit timing and duration variations for the resulting systems, and find that potentially habitable Earth-mass exomoons should be detectable.


Qian, S.-B., Liu, L., Liao, W.-P., Li, L.-J., Zhu, L.-Y., Dai, Z.-B., He, J.-J., Zhao, E.-G., Zhang, J., Li, K., 2011, "Detection of a planetary system orbiting the eclipsing polar HU Aqr," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, L16-L20.


Using the precise times of mid-egress of the eclipsing polar HU Aqr, we discovered that this polar is orbited by two or more giant planets. The two planets detected so far have masses of at least 5.9 and 4.5MJup. Their respective distances from the polar are 3.6 and 5.4 au with periods of 6.54 and 11.96 yr, respectively. The observed rate of decrease of period derived from the downward parabolic change in the observed - calculated (O - C) curve is a factor of 15 larger than the value expected for gravitational radiation. This indicates that it may be only a part of a long-period cyclic variation, revealing the presence of one more planet. It is interesting to note that the two detected circumbinary planets follow the Titus-Bode law of solar planets with n= 5 and 6. We estimate that another 10 yr of observations will reveal the presence of the predicted third planet.


Quillen, A., 2011, "Alessandra Celletti: Stability and Chaos in Celestial Mechanics," Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 33.

Ramos-Caro, J., Pedraza, J.F., Letelier, P.S., 2011, "Motion around a monopole + ring system - I. Stability of equatorial circular orbits versus regularity of three-dimensional motion," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 3105-3116.


We study the motion of test particles around a centre of attraction represented by a monopole (with and without spheroidal deformation) surrounded by a ring, given as a superposition of Morgan and Morgan discs. We deal with two kinds of bounded orbits: (i) equatorial circular orbits and (ii) general three-dimensional orbits. The first case provides a method to perform a linear stability analysis of these structures by studying the behaviour of vertical and epicyclic frequencies as functions of the mass ratio, the size of the ring and/or the quadrupolar deformation. In the second case, we study the influence of these parameters in the regularity or chaoticity of motion. We find that there is a close connection between linear stability (or instability) of equatorial circular orbits and regularity (or chaoticity) of the three-dimensional motion.


Rodin, A.E., Chen, D., 2011, "Optimal filtration and a pulsar time scale," Astronomy Reports, 55, 622-628.


An algorithm is proposed for constructing a group (ensemble) pulsar time based on the application of optimal Wiener filters. This algorithm makes it possible to separate the contributions of variations of the atomic time scale and of the pulsar rotation to barycentric residual deviations of the pulse arrival times. The method is applied to observations of the pulsars PSR B1855+09 and PSR B1937+21, and is used to obtain corrections to UTC relative to the group pulsar time PTens. Direct comparison of the terrestial time TT(BIPM06) and the group pulsar time PTens shows that they disagree by no more than 0.4 ± 0.17 µs. Based on the fractional instability of the time difference TT(BIPM06)-PTens, σ = (0.5 ± 2) × 10-15, a new limit for the energy density of the gravitational-wave background is established at the level Ω g 2 ˜ 10-9.


Roedig, C., Dotti, M., Sesana, A., Cuadra, J., Colpi, M., 2011, "Limiting eccentricity of subparsec massive black hole binaries surrounded by self-gravitating gas discs," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 979.


We study the dynamics of supermassive black hole binaries embedded in circumbinary gaseous discs, with the smoothed particle hydrodynamics code GADGET-2. The subparsec binary (of total mass M and mass ratio q= 1/3) has excavated a gap and transfers its angular momentum to the self-gravitating disc (Mdisc= 0.2M). We explore the changes of the binary eccentricity, e, by simulating a sequence of binary models that differ in the initial eccentricity e0 only. In initially low-eccentric binaries, the eccentricity increases with time, while in high-eccentric binaries e declines, indicating the existence of a limiting eccentricity ecrit that is found to fall in the interval [0.6, 0.8]. We also present an analytical interpretation for this saturation limit. An important consequence of the existence of ecrit is the detectability of a significant residual eccentricity eLISA by the proposed gravitational wave detector Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). It is found that at the moment of entering the LISA frequency domain eLISA˜ 10-3-10-2, a signature of its earlier coupling with the massive circumbinary disc. We also observe large periodic inflows across the gap, occurring on the binary and disc dynamical time-scales rather than on the viscous time. These periodic changes in the accretion rate (with amplitudes up to ˜100 per cent, depending on the binary eccentricity) can be considered a fingerprint of eccentric subparsec binaries migrating inside a circumbinary disc.



Rogers, P.D., Wadsley, J., 2011, "The importance of photosphere cooling in simulations of gravitational instability in the inner regions of protostellar discs," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 913-929.


The fragmentation of protostellar discs via gravitational instability (GI) has been proposed as a mechanism for forming giant planets. We present methods and tests for a new implementation of radiative transfer in the Gasoline TreeSPH code with which we investigate the viability of this mechanism in the inner tens of au of discs. Accurate photosphere boundary treatments are of fundamental importance to the outcome of GI. We demonstrate that previous photosphere treatments using edge-particles overestimate the cooling rate, and present a new treatment that can accurately determine photosphere cooling, as demonstrated by its ability to satisfy the relaxation test of Boley et al. (2007b). This is the first time this test has been carried out with smoothed particle hydrodynamics. We carry out simulations of protostellar discs that are unstable in the inner tens of au and find that they do not fragment because they do not cool fast enough. One of these cases has been previously found to undergo fragmentation. The fact that we do not observe fragmentation in this simulation emphasizes the use of accurate photosphere boundary treatments and the difficulty of forming giant planets in the inner disc (inside of 40 au) via the GI mechanism.


Sanchis-Ojeda, R., Winn, J.N., Holman, M.J., Carter, J.A., Osip, D.J., Fuentes, C.I., 2011, "Starspots and Spin-orbit Alignment in the WASP-4 Exoplanetary System," The Astrophysical Journal, 733, 127.


We present the analysis of 4 months of Kepler photometry of the K4V star HAT-P-11, including 26 transits of its "super-Neptune" planet. The transit data exhibit numerous anomalies that we interpret as passages of the planet over dark starspots. These spot-crossing anomalies preferentially occur at two specific phases of the transit. These phases can be understood as the intersection points between the transit chord and the active latitudes of the host star, where starspots are most abundant. Based on the measured characteristics of spot-crossing anomalies, and previous observations of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect, we find two solutions for the stellar obliquity (psi) and active latitude (l): either psi = 106 and l = 19.7, or psi = 97 and l = 67 (all in degrees). If the active latitude changes with time in analogy with the "butterfly diagram" of the Sun's activity cycle, future observations should reveal changes in the preferred phases of spot-crossing anomalies.


Schwarz, R., Haghighipour, N., Eggl, S., Pilat-Lohinger, E., Funk, B., 2011, "Prospects of the detection of circumbinary planets with Kepler and CoRoT using the variations of eclipse timing," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2763-2770.


In close eclipsing binaries, measurements of the variations in binary's eclipse timing may be used to infer information about the existence of circumbinary objects. To determine the possibility of the detection of such variations with CoRoT and Kepler space telescopes, we have carried out an extensive study of the dynamics of a binary star system with a circumbinary planet, and calculated its eclipse timing variations (ETVs) for different values of the mass ratio and orbital elements of the binary and the perturbing body. Here, we present the results of our study and assess the detectability of the planet by comparing the resulting values of ETVs with the temporal sensitivity of CoRoT and Kepler. Results point to extended regions in the parameter space where the perturbation of a planet may be large enough to create measurable variations in the eclipse timing of the secondary star. Many of these variations point to potentially detectable ETVs and the possible inference of Jovian-type planets.



Simpson, E.K., Pollacco, D., Cameron, A.C., Hébrard, G., Anderson, D.R., Barros, S.C.C., Boisse, I., Bouchy, F., Faedi, F., Gillon, M., Hebb, L., Keenan, F.P., Miller, G.R.M., Moutou, C., Queloz, D., Skillen, I., Sorensen, P., Stempels, H.C., Triaud, A., Watson, C.A., Wilson, P.A., 2011, "The spin-orbit angles of the transiting exoplanets WASP-1b, WASP-24b, WASP-38b and HAT-P-8b from Rossiter-McLaughlin observations," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 3023-3035.


We report on the discovery of WASP-37b, a transiting hot Jupiter orbiting an m v = 12.7 G2-type dwarf, with a period of 3.577469 ± 0.000011 d, transit epoch T 0 = 2455338.6188 ± 0.0006 (HJD; dates throughout the paper are given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)), and a transit duration 0.1304+0.0018 –0.0017 d. The planetary companion has a mass M p = 1.80 ± 0.17M J and radius R p = 1.16+0.07 –0.06 R J, yielding a mean density of 1.15+0.12 –0.15 ρJ. >From a spectral analysis, we find that the host star has M sstarf = 0.925 ± 0.120 M sunR sstarf = 1.003 ± 0.053 R sunT eff = 5800 ± 150 K, and [Fe/H] = –0.40 ± 0.12. WASP-37 is therefore one of the lowest metallicity stars to host a transiting planet.


Tereno, I., Semboloni, E., Schrabback, T., 2011, "COSMOS weak-lensing constraints on modified gravity," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 530, 68.


The observed acceleration of the universe, explained through dark energy, could alternatively be explained through a modification of gravity that would also induce modifications in the evolution of cosmological perturbations. We use new weak lensing data from the COSMOS survey to test for deviations from general relativity (GR). The departure from GR is parametrized in a model-independent way that consistently parametrizes the two-point cosmic shear amplitude and growth. Using CMB priors, we perform a likelihood analysis. We find constraints on the amplitude of the signal that do not indicate a deviation from GR. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained from the data archives at the Space Telescope European Coordination Facility and the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.


Todorovic, N., 2011, "The Role of a Steepness Parameter in the Exponential Stability of a Model Problem. Numerical Aspects," Serbian Astronomical Journal, 182, 25-33.


The Nekhoroshev theorem considers quasi integrable Hamiltonians providing stability of actions in exponentially long times. One of the hypothesis required by the theorem is a mathematical condition called steepness. Nekhoroshev conjectured that different steepness properties should imply numerically observable differences in the stability times. After a recent study on this problem (Guzzo et al. 2011, Todorovic et al. 2011) we show some additional numerical results on the change of resonances and the diffusion laws produced by the increasing effect of steepness. The experiments are performed on a 4-dimensional steep symplectic map designed in a way that a parameter smoothly regulates the steepness properties in the model.


Uozumi, T., Yumoto, K., Tokunaga, T., Solovyev, S.I., Shevtsov, B.M., Marshall, R., Liou, K., Ohtani, S., Abe, S., Ikeda, A., Kitamura, K., Yoshikawa, A., Kawano, H., Itonaga, M., 2011, "AKR modulation and global Pi2 oscillation," Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 116, 06214.


In this report we present a temporal relationship between ground Pi2 and auroral kilometric radiation (AKR). We analyzed six isolated substorm events, which were observed by the MAGDAS/CPMN ground magnetometer network and the plasma wave instrument onboard the Polar satellite. We found that the time derivative of the height-integrated AKR power and the ground Pi2 D component had the same periodicity and that the two were synchronized with each other. When the D component fluctuated with the same (opposite) polarity as the magnetic bay variation, the AKR power tended to increase (decrease) during the corresponding interval. An isolated substorm event (AE ~ 40 nT), which occurred around 10:19 UT on 24 January1997, was selected for a detailed study. The behavior of the Pi2 event can be interpreted by the substorm current wedge (SCW) and Pi2 propagation models. It is confirmed that the midlatitude and high-latitude D component oscillations can be treated as a proxy of the SCW oscillations, whereas the H component oscillations exhibited some phase shifts by the propagation delay of the Pi2 waves. That is, the temporal relation between the time derivative of the AKR power and the ground Pi2 suggests that the height-integrated AKR power was modulated coherently with the SCW oscillations.


Valeri, D., 2011, "The Lyrid Fireball (2008). (Italian Title: Il bolide delle Lyridi (2008))," Astronomia. La rivista dell' Unione Astrofili Italiani, 3, 30-33.


On April 20th, 2008 at 01:22:27 UT a bright Lyrid fireball recorded over central Italy. The meteor was also observed by casual witnesses. In this report we shown the atmospheric trajectory and the orbit of the meteoroid obtained by video stations.


van Haasteren, R., Levin, Y., Janssen, G.H., Lazaridis, K., Kramer, M., Stappers, B.W., Desvignes, G., Purver, M.B., Lyne, A.G., Ferdman, R.D., Jessner, A., Cognard, I., Theureau, G., D'Amico, N., Possenti, A., Burgay, M., Corongiu, A., Hessels, J.W.T., Smits, R., Verbiest, J.P.W., 2011, "Placing limits on the stochastic gravitational-wave background using European Pulsar Timing Array data," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 3117-3128.


Direct detection of low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs, inline image Hz) is the main goal of pulsar timing array (PTA) projects. One of the main targets for the PTAs is to measure the stochastic background of gravitational waves (GWB) whose characteristic strain is expected to approximately follow a power-law of the form inline image, where f is the GW frequency. In this paper we use the current data from the European PTA to determine an upper limit on the GWB amplitude A as a function of the unknown spectral slope α with a Bayesian algorithm, by modelling the GWB as a random Gaussian process. For the case α=−2/3, which is expected if the GWB is produced by supermassive black hole binaries, we obtain a 95 per cent confidence upper limit on A of 6 × 10−15, which is 1.8 times lower than the 95 per cent confidence GWB limit obtained by the Parkes PTA in 2006. Our approach to the data analysis incorporates the multitelescope nature of the European PTA and thus can serve as a useful template for future intercontinental PTA collaborations.


Wu, Y., Lithwick, Y., 2011, "Secular Chaos and the Production of Hot Jupiters," The Astrophysical Journal, 735, 109.


In a planetary system with two or more well-spaced, eccentric, inclined planets, secular interactions may lead to chaos. The innermost planet may gradually become very eccentric and/or inclined as a result of the secular degrees of freedom drifting toward equipartition of angular momentum deficit. Secular chaos is known to be responsible for the eventual destabilization of Mercury in our own solar system. Here we focus on systems with three giant planets. We characterize the secular chaos and demonstrate the criterion for it to occur, but leave a detailed understanding of secular chaos to a companion paper. After an extended period of eccentricity diffusion, the inner planet's pericenter can approach the star to within a few stellar radii. Strong tidal interactions and ensuing tidal dissipation extract orbital energy from the planet and pull it inward, creating a hot Jupiter. In contrast to other proposed channels for the production of hot Jupiters, such a scenario (which we term "secular migration") explains a range of observations: the pile-up of hot Jupiters at 3 day orbital periods, the fact that hot Jupiters are in general less massive than other radial velocity planets, that they may have misaligned inclinations with respect to stellar spin, and that they have few easily detectable companions (but may have giant companions in distant orbits). Secular migration can also explain close-in planets as low in mass as Neptune; and an aborted secular migration can explain the "warm Jupiters" at intermediate distances. In addition, the frequency of hot Jupiters formed via secular migration increases with stellar age. We further suggest that secular chaos may be responsible for the observed eccentricities of giant planets at larger distances and that these planets could exhibit significant spin-orbit misalignment.



Xu, Y., Yang, Y., Zhang, Q., Xu, G., 2011, "Solar oblateness and Mercury's perihelion precession," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1043.


The Keplerian laws of planetary motion are solutions of the two-body gravitational problem. Solar oblateness resulting from the rotation of the Sun distorts the gravitational force acting on a planet and disturbs its Keplerian motion. An analytic solution of a planetary orbit disturbed by the solar gravitational oblateness is derived. In addition to short- and long-periodic disturbances there are secular disturbances, which lead to a perihelion precession and a nodal regression as well as to a mean-motion advance. The magnitude of the short-periodic perihelion precession could disturb observations of the secular effect if the survey is shorter than one Julian year. Transformation of formulae from the solar equatorial plane to the ecliptic plane is discussed. Numerical estimates of the secular perihelion precessions of Mercury, Venus and Mars are in good agreement with published results, confirming our theory. Inversely, the solar oblateness could be determined through observation of the perihelion precession of a planet. The solution is also valid for satellite orbits in the solar gravitational field.


Yan, W.M., Manchester, R.N., Hobbs, G., van Straten, W., Reynolds, J.E., Wang, N., Bailes, M., Bhat, N.D.R., Burke-Spolaor, S., Champion, D.J., Chaudhary, A., Coles, W.A., Hotan, A.W., Khoo, J., Oslowski, S., Sarkissian, J.M., Yardley, D.R.B., 2011, "Rotation measure variations for 20 millisecond pulsars," Astrophysics and Space Science, 214.


We report on variations in the mean position angle of the 20 millisecond pulsars being observed as part of the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA) project. It is found that the observed variations are dominated by changes in the Faraday rotation occurring in the Earth's ionosphere. Two ionospheric models are used to correct for the ionospheric contribution and it is found that one based on the International Reference Ionosphere gave the best results. Little or no significant long-term variation in interstellar RM was found with limits typically about 0.1 rad m-2 yr-1 in absolute value. In a few cases, apparently significant RM variations over timescales of a few 100 days or more were seen. These are unlikely to be due to localised magnetised regions crossing the line of sight since the implied magnetic fields are too high. Most probably they are statistical fluctuations due to random spatial and temporal variations in the interstellar electron density and magnetic field along the line of sight.


Yan, W.M., Manchester, R.N., van Straten, W., Reynolds, J.E., Hobbs, G., Wang, N., Bailes, M., Bhat, N.D.R., Burke-Spolaor, S., Champion, D.J., Coles, W.A., Hotan, A.W., Khoo, J., Oslowski, S., Sarkissian, J.M., Verbiest, J.P.W., Yardley, D.R.B., 2011, "Polarization observations of 20 millisecond pulsars," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 2087-2100.


Polarization profiles are presented for 20 millisecond pulsars that are being observed as part of the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array project. The observations used the Parkes multibeam receiver with a central frequency of 1369 MHz and the Parkes digital filter bank pulsar signal-processing system PDFB2. Because of the large total observing time, the summed polarization profiles have very high signal-to-noise ratios and show many previously undetected profile features. 13 of the 20 pulsars show emission over more than half of the pulse period. Polarization variations across the profiles are complex, and the observed position angle variations are generally not in accord with the rotating vector model for pulsar polarization. Nevertheless, the polarization properties are broadly similar to those of normal (non-millisecond) pulsars, suggesting that the basic radio emission mechanism is the same in both classes of pulsar. The results support the idea that radio emission from millisecond pulsars originates high in the pulsar magnetosphere, probably close to the emission regions for high-energy X-ray and gamma-ray emission. Rotation measures were obtained for all 20 pulsars, eight of which had no previously published measurements.



Yardley, D.R.B., Coles, W.A., Hobbs, G.B., Verbiest, J.P.W., Manchester, R.N., van Straten, W., Jenet, F.A., Bailes, M., Bhat, N.D.R., Burke-Spolaor, S., Champion, D.J., Hotan, A.W., Oslowski, S., Reynolds, J.E., Sarkissian, J.M., 2011, "On detection of the stochastic gravitational-wave background using the Parkes pulsar timing array," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, 1777-1787.


We search for the signature of an isotropic stochastic gravitational-wave background in pulsar timing observations using a frequency-domain correlation technique. These observations, which span roughly 12 yr, were obtained with the 64-m Parkes radio telescope augmented by public domain observations from the Arecibo Observatory. A wide range of signal processing issues unique to pulsar timing and not previously presented in the literature are discussed. These include the effects of quadratic removal, irregular sampling and variable errors which exacerbate the spectral leakage inherent in estimating the steep red spectrum of the gravitational-wave background. These observations are found to be consistent with the null hypothesis that no gravitational-wave background is present, with 76 per cent confidence. We show that the detection statistic is dominated by the contributions of only a few pulsars because of the inhomogeneity of this data set. The issues of detecting the signature of a gravitational-wave background with future observations are discussed.