Ringer | by Brian Koberlein



3 March 2015

Using the occultations of Saturn.
Stewart, et al
Utilizing the occultations of Saturn.

One of many issues astronomers are good at is gathering information in surprising methods. In astronomy you’ll be able to’t simply go to what you wish to research, nor are you able to do all your experiments within the lab. Gathering helpful information could be troublesome, so if you get an occasion just like the transit of Venus or the fortune of Jupiter having 4 massive moons, you make the most of it. For instance, new work being revealed in MNRAS proposes a approach to make use of the Cassini spacecraft and the rings of Saturn to resolve stars.

An image of the star Mira using the technique.
Stewart, et al
A picture of the star Mira utilizing the method.

As Cassini orbits Saturn, it’s view of background stars are sometimes occulted by the rings of Saturn. By observing a star because the rings move in entrance of it, we are able to collect details about the star. Occultations have lengthy been a part of the astronomer’s toolbox, comparable to utilizing the Moon’s occultation of distant stars to find binary stars, or the occultations by asteroids to decide their form. The ability of this kind of strategy is that since an occultation regularly blocks and unblocks the distant object, we are able to collect information in regards to the object “a slice at a time.”

On this paper, the authors exhibit how this information can be utilized to reconstruct a picture of the star, which gives information on its measurement and brightness profiles. They then used occultation information gathered by Cassini to supply a picture of a pair stars, comparable to Mira. The decision of the photographs produced varies a bit relying on the occultation, however it’s roughly on the order of milliarcseconds, which is fairly spectacular. What makes it extra spectacular is that Cassini was by no means particularly designed for this type of factor.

It simply goes to indicate what ingenuity and a wealth of freely accessible information can get you.

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