International Celestial Reference System

The International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) is the current standard celestial reference system adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Its origin is at the barycenter of the Solar System, with axes that are intended to be "fixed" with respect to space. ICRS coordinates are approximately the same as equatorial coordinates: the mean pole at J2000.0 in the ICRS lies at 17.3±0.2 mas in the direction 12 h and 5.1±0.2 mas in the direction 18 h. The mean equinox of J2000.0 is shifted from the ICRS right ascension origin by 78±10 mas (direct rotation around the polar axis).

The defining extragalactic reference frame of the ICRS is the International Celestial Reference Frame (currently ICRF3)[1] based on hundreds of extra-galactic radio sources, mostly quasars, distributed around the entire sky. Because they are so distant, they are apparently stationary to our current technology, yet their positions can be measured with the utmost accuracy by Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The positions of most are known to 0.001 arcsecond or better.[2] At optical wavelengths, the ICRS is currently realized by the Hipparcos Celestial Reference Frame (HCRF), a subset of about 100,000 stars in the Hipparcos Catalogue.[3] A more accurate optical realization of the ICRS (Gaia-CRF2), based on the observation by the Gaia spacecraft of almost 500,000 extragalactic objects believed to be quasars, is under preparation.[4][5]

See also

References

  1. ^ "The International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF)". www.iers.org. IERS. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  2. ^ "ICRS Narrative". U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  3. ^ "International Celestial Reference System (ICRS)". U S Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Department. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  4. ^ Gaia Collaboration; Mignard, F.; Klioner, S.; Lindegren, L.; et al. (2018), "Gaia Data Release 2. The celestial reference frame (Gaia-CRF2)", Astronomy & Astrophysics, arXiv:1804.09377, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201832916
  5. ^ Lindegren, L.; Hernandez, J.; Bombrun, A.; Klioner, S.; et al. (2018), "Gaia Data Release 2 – The astrometric solution", Astronomy & Astrophysics, arXiv:1804.09366, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201832727

Further reading

  • Kovalevsky, Jean; Mueller, Ivan Istvan; Kołaczek, Barbara (1989) Reference Frames in Astronomy and Geophysics, Astrophysics and Space Science Library, Volume 154 Kluwer Academic Publishers ISBN 9780792301820

External links

3C 273

3C 273 is a quasar located in the constellation Virgo. It was the first quasar ever to be identified.

It is the optically brightest quasar in the sky (m ~12.9), and one of the closest with a redshift, z, of 0.158. A luminosity distance of DL = 749 megaparsecs (2.4 Gly) may be calculated from z. It is also one of the most luminous quasars known, with an absolute magnitude of −26.7, meaning that if it were only as distant as Pollux (~10 parsecs) it would appear nearly as bright in the sky as the Sun. Since the sun's absolute magnitude is 4.83, it means that the quasar is over 4 trillion times more luminous than the Sun at visible wavelengths. The mass of its central black hole has been measured to be 886 ± 187 million solar masses through broad emission-line reverberation mapping.

Barycenter

In astronomy, the barycenter (or barycentre; from the Ancient Greek βαρύς heavy + κέντρον center) is the center of mass of two or more bodies that orbit one another and is the point about which the bodies orbit. It is an important concept in such fields as astronomy and astrophysics. The distance from a body's center of mass to the barycenter can be calculated as a two-body problem.

If one of two orbiting bodies is much more massive than the other and the bodies are relatively close to one another, the barycenter will typically be located within the more massive object. In this case, rather than the two bodies appearing to orbit a point between them, the less massive body will appear to orbit about the more massive body, while the more massive body might be observed to wobble slightly. This is the case for the Earth–Moon system, in which the barycenter is located on average 4,671 km (2,902 mi) from Earth's center, 75% of Earth's radius of 6,378 km (3,963 mi). When the two bodies are of similar masses, the barycenter will generally be located between them and both bodies will orbit around it. This is the case for Pluto and Charon, one of Pluto's natural satellites, as well as for many binary asteroids and binary stars. When the less massive object is far away, the barycenter can be located outside the more massive object. This is the case for Jupiter and the Sun; despite the Sun being thousandfold more massive than Jupiter, their barycenter is slightly outside the Sun due to the relatively large distance between them.In astronomy, barycentric coordinates are non-rotating coordinates with the origin at the barycenter of two or more bodies. The International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) is a barycentric coordinate system centered on the Solar System's barycenter.

In geometry, the term barycenter or barycentre is synonymous with centroid, the geometric center of a geometric figure.

Barycentric celestial reference system

The barycentric celestial reference system (BCRS) is a coordinate system used in astrometry to specify the location and motions of astronomical objects. It was created in 2000 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to be the global standard reference system for objects located outside the gravitational vicinity of Earth: planets, moons, and other Solar System bodies, stars and other objects in the Milky Way galaxy, and extra-galactic objects.

The geocentric celestial reference system (GCRS), also created by the IAU in 2000, is a similar standard coordinate system used to specify the location and motions of near-earth objects, such as satellites.These systems make it easier for scientists and engineers to compile, share, compare, and convert accurate measurements worldwide, by establishing standards both of measure and of methodology, and providing a consistent framework of operations. The focus of the BCRS is on astronomy: exploration of the Solar System and the universe. The BCRS is the system currently used for expressing positional data in astronomical references, such as the Hipparcos star catalog.

The focus of the GCRS is somewhat more on the navigation of Earth satellites and the geophysical applications they support. The proper functioning of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is directly dependent upon the accuracy of satellite measurements as supported by the GCRS.

Celestial coordinate system

In astronomy, a celestial coordinate system (or celestial reference system) is a system for specifying positions of celestial objects: satellites, planets, stars, galaxies, and so on. Coordinate systems can specify an object's position in three-dimensional space or plot merely its direction on a celestial sphere, if the object's distance is unknown or trivial.

The coordinate systems are implemented in either spherical or rectangular coordinates. Spherical coordinates, projected on the celestial sphere, are analogous to the geographic coordinate system used on the surface of Earth. These differ in their choice of fundamental plane, which divides the celestial sphere into two equal hemispheres along a great circle. Rectangular coordinates, in appropriate units, are simply the cartesian equivalent of the spherical coordinates, with the same fundamental (x, y) plane and primary (x-axis) direction. Each coordinate system is named after its choice of fundamental plane.

Earth orientation parameters

In geodesy, earth orientation parameters (EOP) are a collection of parameters that describe irregularities in the rotation of the Earth.

The Earth's rotational velocity is not constant over time. Any motion of mass in or on the Earth causes a slowdown or speedup of the rotation speed, or a change of rotation axis. Small motions produce changes too small to be measured, but movements of very large mass, like sea currents or tides, can produce discernible changes in the rotation and can change very precise astronomical observations. Global simulations of atmosphere, ocean, and land dynamics are used to create effective angular momentum (EAM) functions that can be used to predict changes in EOP.The collection of earth orientation parameters is fitted to describe the observed rotation irregularities. Technically, they provide the rotational transform from the International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS) to the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS), or vice versa, as a function of time.

Epoch (astronomy)

In astronomy, an epoch is a moment in time used as a reference point for some time-varying astronomical quantity, such as the celestial coordinates or elliptical orbital elements of a celestial body, because these are subject to perturbations and vary with time. These time-varying astronomical quantities might include, for example, the mean longitude or mean anomaly of a body, the node of its orbit relative to a reference plane, the direction of the apogee or aphelion of its orbit, or the size of the major axis of its orbit.

The main use of astronomical quantities specified in this way is to calculate other relevant parameters of motion, in order to predict future positions and velocities. The applied tools of the disciplines of celestial mechanics or its subfield orbital mechanics (for predicting orbital paths and positions for bodies in motion under the gravitational effects of other bodies) can be used to generate an ephemeris, a table of values giving the positions and velocities of astronomical objects in the sky at a given time or times.

Astronomical quantities can be specified in any of several ways, for example, as a polynomial function of the time-interval, with an epoch as a temporal point of origin (this is a common current way of using an epoch). Alternatively, the time-varying astronomical quantity can be expressed as a constant, equal to the measure that it had at the epoch, leaving its variation over time to be specified in some other way—for example, by a table, as was common during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The word epoch was often used in a different way in older astronomical literature, e.g. during the 18th century, in connection with astronomical tables. At that time, it was customary to denote as "epochs", not the standard date and time of origin for time-varying astronomical quantities, but rather the values at that date and time of those time-varying quantities themselves. In accordance with that alternative historical usage, an expression such as 'correcting the epochs' would refer to the adjustment, usually by a small amount, of the values of the tabulated astronomical quantities applicable to a fixed standard date and time of reference (and not, as might be expected from current usage, to a change from one date and time of reference to a different date and time).

Equinox (celestial coordinates)

In astronomy, equinox is either of two places on the celestial sphere at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator. Although there are two intersections of the ecliptic with the celestial equator, by convention the equinox associated with the sun's ascending node is used as the origin of celestial coordinate systems and referred to simply as the equinox. In contrast to the common usage of spring and fall, or vernal and autumnal, equinoxes, the celestial coordinate system equinox is a direction in space rather than a moment in time.

The equinox moves because of perturbing forces, therefore in order to define a coordinate system it is necessary to specify the date for which the equinox is chosen. This date should not be confused with the epoch. Astronomical objects show real movements such as orbital and proper motions, and the epoch defines the date for which the position of an object applies. Therefore, a complete specification of the coordinates for an astronomical objects requires both the date of the equinox and of the epoch.The currently used standard equinox and epoch is J2000.0, which is January 1, 2000 at 12:00 TT. The prefix "J" indicates that it is a Julian epoch. The previous standard equinox and epoch was B1950.0, with the prefix "B" indicating it was a Besselian epoch. Before 1984 Besselian equinoxes and epochs were used. Since that time Julian equinoxes and epochs have been used.

François Mignard

François Mignard (born 1949) is a French astronomer and the director of the CERGA Observatory (French: Centre de recherches en géodynamique et astrométrie) of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur in southern France. He is an expert in space astrometry and Solar System dynamics, and played major roles in the European Space Agency's Hipparcos and Gaia missions. Mignard is an active member in several commissions of the International Astronomical Union and chairman of its working group that amends the standards for the International Celestial Reference System.

Gaia (spacecraft)

Gaia is a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in 2013 and expected to operate until c. 2022. The spacecraft is designed for astrometry: measuring the positions, distances and motions of stars with unprecedented precision. The mission aims to construct by far the largest and most precise 3D space catalog ever made, totalling approximately 1 billion astronomical objects, mainly stars, but also planets, comets, asteroids and quasars among others.The spacecraft has monitored each of its target objects about 70 times over the first five years of the mission to study the precise position and motion of each target, and will keep doing so. The spacecraft has enough micro-propulsion fuel to operate until about November 2024. As its detectors are not degrading as fast as initially expected, the mission could therefore be extended. The Gaia targets represent approximately 1% of the Milky Way population with all stars brighter than magnitude 20 in a broad photometric band that covers most of the visual range. Additionally, Gaia is expected to detect thousands to tens of thousands of Jupiter-sized exoplanets beyond the Solar System, 500,000 quasars outside our galaxy and tens of thousands of new asteroids and comets within the Solar System.Gaia will create a precise three-dimensional map of astronomical objects throughout the Milky Way and map their motions, which encode the origin and subsequent evolution of the Milky Way. The spectrophotometric measurements will provide the detailed physical properties of all stars observed, characterizing their luminosity, effective temperature, gravity and elemental composition. This massive stellar census will provide the basic observational data to analyze a wide range of important questions related to the origin, structure, and evolutionary history of our galaxy.

The successor to the Hipparcos mission (operational 1989–93), Gaia is part of ESA's Horizon 2000+ long-term scientific program. Gaia was launched on 19 December 2013 by Arianespace using a Soyuz ST-B/Fregat-MT rocket flying from Kourou in French Guiana. The spacecraft currently operates in a Lissajous orbit around the Sun–Earth L2 Lagrangian point.

Hipparcos

Hipparcos was a scientific satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in 1989 and operated until 1993. It was the first space experiment devoted to precision astrometry, the accurate measurement of the positions of celestial objects on the sky. This permitted the accurate determination of proper motions and parallaxes of stars, allowing a determination of their distance and tangential velocity. When combined with radial velocity measurements from spectroscopy, this pinpointed all six quantities needed to determine the motion of stars. The resulting Hipparcos Catalogue, a high-precision catalogue of more than 118,200 stars, was published in 1997. The lower-precision Tycho Catalogue of more than a million stars was published at the same time, while the enhanced Tycho-2 Catalogue of 2.5 million stars was published in 2000. Hipparcos' follow-up mission, Gaia, was launched in 2013.

The word "Hipparcos" is an acronym for HIgh Precision PARallax COllecting Satellite and also a reference to the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea, who is noted for applications of trigonometry to astronomy and his discovery of the precession of the equinoxes.

ICRS

ICRS may refer to:

International Cannabinoid Research Society, professional society for cannabinoid researchers

International Celestial Reference System, the IAU standard celestial reference system

Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, professional body for sustainability practitioners

Intrastromal corneal ring segment, an eye implant for vision correction

International Celestial Reference Frame

In astrometry, an International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF) is a realization of the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) using reference celestial sources observed at radio wavelengths. In the context of the ICRS, a reference frame is the physical realization of a reference system, i.e., the reference frame is the set of reported coordinates of the reference sources, with the coordinates derived using the procedures spelled out by the ICRS.The ICRF creates a quasi-inertial frame of reference centered at the barycenter of the Solar System, whose axes are defined by the measured positions of extragalactic sources (mainly quasars) observed using very long baseline interferometry. Although general relativity implies that there are no true inertial frames around gravitating bodies, the ICRF is important because it does not exhibit any measurable angular motion since the extragalactic sources used to define the ICRF are so far away. The ICRF is now the standard reference frame used to define the positions of the planets (including the Earth) and other astronomical objects.

International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), formerly the International Earth Rotation Service, is the body responsible for maintaining global time and reference frame standards, notably through its Earth Orientation Parameter (EOP) and International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) groups.

International Terrestrial Reference System and Frame

The International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS) describes procedures for creating reference frames suitable for use with measurements on or near the Earth's surface. This is done in much the same way that a physical standard might be described as a set of procedures for creating a realization of that standard. The ITRS defines a geocentric system of coordinates using the SI system of measurement.

An International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) is a realization of the ITRS. New ITRF solutions are produced every few years, using the latest mathematical and surveying techniques to attempt to realize the ITRS as precisely as possible. Due to experimental error, any given ITRF will differ very slightly from any other realization of the ITRF. The difference between the latest WGS 84 and the latest ITRF is only a few centimeters.Practical navigation systems are in general referenced to a specific ITRF solution, or to their own coordinate systems which are then referenced to an ITRF solution.

The ITRS and ITRF solutions are maintained by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS).

The Galileo Terrestrial Reference Frame (GTRF) is used for the Galileo navigation system; currently defined as ITRF2005.

GTRF is defined by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Lunar node

A lunar node is either of the two orbital nodes of the Moon, that is, the two points at which the orbit of the Moon intersects the ecliptic. The ascending (or north) node is where the Moon moves into the northern ecliptic hemisphere, while the descending (or south) node is where the Moon enters the southern ecliptic hemisphere.

A lunar eclipse can occur only when the full Moon is near (within 11° 38' ecliptic longitude) either lunar node, while a solar eclipse can occur only when the new Moon is near (within 17° 25') either lunar node.

Because the orbital plane of the Moon precesses in space, the lunar nodes also precess around the ecliptic, completing one revolution (called a draconic or nodal period) in 18.612958 years (6,798.383 days). (This is not the same length as a saros.) The same cycle measured against an inertial frame of reference, such as International Celestial Reference System (ICRS), a coordinate system relative to the fixed stars), is 18.599525 years.

Both solar eclipses of July 2000 (on the 1st and 31st days) occurred around the time when the Moon was at its ascending node. Ascending-node eclipses recur after one draconic year on average, which is about 0.94901 Gregorian year, as do descending-node eclipses.

Quasar

A quasar () (also known as a QSO or quasi-stellar object) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN). It has been theorized that most large galaxies contain a supermassive central black hole with mass ranging from millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun. In quasars and other types of AGN, the black hole is surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. As gas falls toward the black hole, energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which can be observed across the electromagnetic spectrum. The power radiated by quasars is enormous: the most powerful quasars have luminosities thousands of times greater than a galaxy such as the Milky Way.The term "quasar" originated as a contraction of quasi-stellar [star-like] radio source, because quasars were first identified during the 1950s as sources of radio-wave emission of unknown physical origin, and when identified in photographic images at visible wavelengths they resembled faint star-like points of light. High-resolution images of quasars, particularly from the Hubble Space Telescope, have demonstrated that quasars occur in the centers of galaxies, and that some host-galaxies are strongly interacting or merging galaxies. As with other categories of AGN, the observed properties of a quasar depend on many factors including the mass of the black hole, the rate of gas accretion, the orientation of the accretion disk relative to the observer, the presence or absence of a jet, and the degree of obscuration by gas and dust within the host galaxy.

Quasars are found over a very broad range of distances, and quasar discovery surveys have demonstrated that quasar activity was more common in the distant past. The peak epoch of quasar activity was approximately 10 billion years ago. As of 2017, the most distant known quasar is ULAS J1342+0928 at redshift z = 7.54; light observed from this quasar was emitted when the universe was only 690 million years old. The supermassive black hole in this quasar, estimated at 800 million solar masses, is the most distant black hole identified to date.

Tempo (astronomy)

Tempo is a computer program to analyze radio observations of pulsars. Once enough observations are available, Tempo can deduce the pulsar rotation rate and phase, astrometric position and rates of change, and parameters of binary systems, by fitting models to pulse times of arrival measured at one or more terrestrial observatories. This is a non-trivial procedure because much larger effects must be removed before the detailed fit can be performed. These include:

Dispersion of the pulses in the Interstellar medium, the solar system, and the ionosphere

Observatory motion (including Earth rotation, precession, nutation, polar motion and orbital motion)

Tropospheric propagation delay

Gravitational time dilation due to binary companions and Solar system bodies.Tempo is maintained and distributed on SourceForge. There is a reference manual available, but no general documentation.

Tempo is a relatively old program, and is being replaced by Tempo2. The main advantages of Tempo2, from the abstract, are:

We have developed tempo2, a new pulsar timing package that contains propagation and other relevant effects implemented at the 1ns level of precision (a factor of ~100 more precise than previously obtainable). In contrast with earlier timing packages, tempo2 is compliant with the general relativistic framework of the IAU 1991 and 2000 resolutions and hence uses the International Celestial Reference System, Barycentric Coordinate Time and up-to-date precession, nutation and polar motion models.

Very-long-baseline interferometry

Very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) is a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy. In VLBI a signal from an astronomical radio source, such as a quasar, is collected at multiple radio telescopes on Earth. The distance between the radio telescopes is then calculated using the time difference between the arrivals of the radio signal at different telescopes. This allows observations of an object that are made simultaneously by many radio telescopes to be combined, emulating a telescope with a size equal to the maximum separation between the telescopes.

Data received at each antenna in the array include arrival times from a local atomic clock, such as a hydrogen maser. At a later time, the data are correlated with data from other antennas that recorded the same radio signal, to produce the resulting image. The resolution achievable using interferometry is proportional to the observing frequency. The VLBI technique enables the distance between telescopes to be much greater than that possible with conventional interferometry, which requires antennas to be physically connected by coaxial cable, waveguide, optical fiber, or other type of transmission line. The greater telescope separations are possible in VLBI due to the development of the closure phase imaging technique by Roger Jennison in the 1950s, allowing VLBI to produce images with superior resolution.VLBI is best known for imaging distant cosmic radio sources, spacecraft tracking, and for applications in astrometry. However, since the VLBI technique measures the time differences between the arrival of radio waves at separate antennas, it can also be used "in reverse" to perform earth rotation studies, map movements of tectonic plates very precisely (within millimetres), and perform other types of geodesy. Using VLBI in this manner requires large numbers of time difference measurements from distant sources (such as quasars) observed with a global network of antennas over a period of time.

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