Title: Charon's size and an upper limit on its atmosphere from a stellar occultation
Authors: Sicardy, B ×
Bellucci, A
Gendron, E
Lacombe, F
Lacour, S
Lecacheux, J
Lellouch, E
Renner, S
Roques, F
Widemann, T
Colas, F
Vachier, F
Martins, RV
Ageorges, N
Hainaut, O
Marco, O
Beisker, W
Hummel, E
Feinstein, C
Levato, H
Maury, A
Frappa, E
Gaillard, B
Lavayssiere, M
Di Sora, M
Mallia, F
Masi, G
Behrend, R
Carrier, Fabien
Mousis, O
Rousselot, P
Alvarez-Candal, A
Lazzaro, D
Veiga, C
Andrei, AH
Assafin, M
Neto, DND
Jacques, C
Pimentel, E
Weaver, D
Lecampion, JF
Doncel, F
Momiyama, T
Tancredi, G #
Issue Date: Jan-2006
Publisher: Nature publishing group
Series Title: Nature vol:439 issue:7072 pages:52-54
Abstract: Pluto and its satellite, Charon ( discovered in 1978; ref. 1), appear to form a double planet, rather than a hierarchical planet/satellite couple. Charon is about half Pluto's size and about one-eighth its mass. The precise radii of Pluto and Charon have remained uncertain, leading to large uncertainties on their densities(2). Although stellar occultations by Charon are in principle a powerful way of measuring its size, they are rare, as the satellite subtends less than 0.3 microradians (0.06 arcsec) on the sky. One occultation ( in 1980) yielded a lower limit of 600 km for the satellite's radius(3), which was later refined to 601.5 km ( ref. 4). Here we report observations from a multi-station stellar occultation by Charon, which we use to derive a radius, R-C = 603.6 +/- 1.4 km (1 sigma), and a density of rho = 1.71 +/- 0.08 g cm(-3). This occultation also provides upper limits of 110 and 15 (3 sigma) nanobar for an atmosphere around Charon, assuming respectively a pure nitrogen or pure methane atmosphere.
ISSN: 0028-0836
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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