Hubble Space Telescope Observations of Haumea during a Predicted Mutual Event
, M. E. Brown
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,
California Institute of Technology.
The dwarf planet Haumea is one of the most interesting objects in the solar system with a highly elliptical shape, two moons, and as the progenitor or the only known collisional family in the Kuiper belt. Despite being one of the most well-observed objects beyond Neptune, some of Haumea's basic properties (e.g., density) are poorly known or based on model assumptions. Through a fortuitous alignment of the inner satellite, Namaka, we can significantly improve our understanding of this important body with a detailed characterization of a Haumea-Namaka mutual event. Similarly to the information-rich Pluto-Charon mutual events, the Haumea-Namaka mutual events promise to reveal an accurate size, shape, albedo, density, and spin pole orientation of Haumea, along with a measurement of the size, albedo, and density of the inner satellite Namaka, and improved orbits of both Namaka and Hi'iaka (through measuring perturbations on Namaka's orbit). Although entirely fulfilling these goals requires observing several mutual events, the single well-characterized mutual event we attempted to observe will provide valuable first steps in this direction and will provide crucial timing information required for intrepretation of other events, past and future. So far, ground based observations have been limited by systematic errors (such as the unknown but significant light curve of Hi'iaka). We have obtained Hubble Space Telescope observations of Haumea during the June 28, 2010 mutual event, predicted to be a nearly central transit of Haumea by Namaka and a grazing shadow-transit. We have confirmed that HST has successfully observed Haumea and its satellites in 270 ~45-second exopsures spanning 10 orbits (~15 hours). We will present photometric and astrometric analyses of these data and discuss their implications for Haumea. This work is based on NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope program 12243 and is supported by NASA with grants from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
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42nd DPS Program published in BAAS volume 42 #4, 2010.
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