Changing material around (2060) Chiron revealed by an occultation on December 15, 2022

Publication date: 
Main author: 
Ortiz, J. L.
IAA authors: 
Ortiz, J. L.;Kretlow, M.;Leiva, R.;Morales, N.;Vara-Lubiano, M.;Santos-Sanz, P.;Fernández-Valenzuela, E.;Duffard, R.;Morales, R.;Alvarez-Candal, A.;Rizos, J. L.;Gómez-Limón, J. M.
Ortiz, J. L.;Pereira, C. L.;Sicardy, B.;Braga-Ribas, F.;Takey, A.;Fouad, A. M.;Shaker, A. A.;Kaspi, S.;Brosch, N.;Kretlow, M.;Leiva, R.;Desmars, J.;Morgado, B. E.;Morales, N.;Vara-Lubiano, M.;Santos-Sanz, P.;Fernández-Valenzuela, E.;Souami, D.;Duffard, R.;Rommel, F. L.;Kilic, Y.;Erece, O.;Koseoglu, D.;Ege, E.;Morales, R.;Alvarez-Candal, A.;Rizos, J. L.;Gómez-Limón, J. M.;Assafin, M.;Vieira-Martins, R.;Gomes-Júnior, A. R.;Camargo, J. I. B.;Lecacheux, J.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Publication type: 
We were able to accurately predict the shadow path and successfully observe an occultation of a bright star by Chiron on December 15, 2022. The Kottamia Astronomical Observatory in Egypt did not detect the occultation by the solid body, but we found three extinction features in the light curve that had symmetrical counterparts with respect to the central time of the occultation. One of the features is broad and shallow, whereas the other two features are sharper, with a maximum extinction of ∼25% at the achieved spatial resolution of 19 km per data point. From the Wise Observatory in Israel, we detected the occultation caused by the main body and several extinction features surrounding the body. When all the secondary features are plotted in the sky plane, we find that they can be caused by a broad ∼580 km disk with concentrations at radii of 325 ± 16 km and 423 ± 11 km surrounding Chiron. At least one of these structures appears to be outside the Roche limit. The ecliptic coordinates of the pole of the disk are λ = 151° ±8° and β = 18° ±11°, in agreement with previous results. We also reveal our long-term photometry results, indicating that Chiron had suffered a brightness outburst of at least 0.6 mag between March and September 2021 and that Chiron was still somewhat brighter at the occultation date than at its nominal pre-outburst phase. The outermost extinction features might be consistent with a bound or temporarily bound structure associated with the brightness increase. However, the nature of the brightness outburst is unclear, and it is also unclear whether the dust or ice released in the outburst could be feeding a putative ring structure or whether it is emanating from it.
ADS Bibcode: 
occultations;Kuiper belt: general;comets: general;minor planets;asteroids: individual: Chiron;Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics